10 August 2018
From flying planes in the Outback to flying a drone in Taranaki, NPDC’s Sam Dymond has an eagle eye on our water supply.
The Water Treatment Plant Technician used to work in the Australian desert as a commercial pilot but he’s changed his aircraft of choice since joining NPDC last year and now flies a drone to check the district’s water network.
Using the drone saves NPDC staff time and money in surveying hard-to-get-to places in the district.
“It’s an easy and cost-effective way to look at the roofs of reservoirs or pipes that are far from a road,” says NPDC Chief Operating Officer Kelvin Wright.
“Ordinarily we’d have to get our staff into full health and safety gear before sending them up to the top of a reservoir, but now we can ditch the harnesses and fly a drone in a fraction of the time.”
As well as flying a drone for NPDC, Sam, who has previously worked in the oil and dairy industries, calibrates and tests the equipment at all four water treatment plants to make sure they are up to the National Drinking Water Standards.
Says Sam: “Drones are quick and easy to use. It’s a simple hi-tech solution that saves time and money and removes the risks of working at heights.
“I really enjoy being a water treatment operator. It’s such an important job as everyone in the community relies on us to provide safe drinking water. Every day is different and we’re always kept on our toes.”
NPDC is just one of a handful of councils in New Zealand that use drones for water supply inspections, and NPDC has just completed a drone inspection programme.
NPDC operates four water supply networks in the district, comprising more than 800km of pipes and 17 reservoirs. It costs more than $10 million a year to maintain and operate the networks, delivering clean and healthy drinking water to about 28,250 households.