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RUMBLES - September 2015

of special note Drones to Assist in New Mexico Dam Inspection The Bureau of Reclamation has selected New Mexico State University to be the lead subject matter expert to perform the first Reclamation dam inspection using an unmanned aircraft system. This aeronautical research project will occur at Elephant Butte Dam in New Mexico. Reclamation is providing New Mexico State $35,000 to assist in the project. New Mexico State University will work with Reclamation staff to develop the concept of operations, address safety requirements, select the unmanned aircraft system and appropriate sensors, validate flight procedures, and perform the inspection. The research project will determine the applicability of unmanned aircraft systems as a tool for infrastructure inspection using light detection and ranging, infrared, photogrammetry, and HD video. It will help Reclamation determine potential issues with the dams’ infrastructure, including concrete cracks, spalls, and other subsurface defects including moisture where it should not be and any erosion or other topographical changes to the dam and spillway. The flight is expected to take place this summer. Reclamation’s Research and Development Program are funding this project. It focuses on researching innovative, workable solutions to challenging water and power management issues in the western United States. It provides solutions for Reclamation water and facility managers and the stakeholders they serve. To learn more, visit www.usbr.gov/research. 40 | RUMBLES SEPTEMBER 2015 The water rings around Elephant Butte, for which the reservoir was named, show how much water levels have dropped at the reservoir over the past decade. Elephant Butte Dam will partner with New Mexico State University to perform the first Bureau of Reclamation dam inspection using an unmanned aircraft system. This aerial photo of Elephant Butte Dam and power-plant was taken from an overlook point on the road to the damsite’s recreation area. Elephant Butte Dam will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in October 2016.


RUMBLES - September 2015
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