UK-based Environment Agency is using a new remote controlled boat to survey the river breaking banks in the UK. The boat is equipped with a SonTek M9 acoustic doppler profiler (ADP) tool featuring HydroSurveyor software.

The move came after the agency recently used the boat to assess damage caused by a storm on a flood barrier at Seal Sands in the north-east of England, in December 2013.

The high tides created a hole of around 60m to 80m from the barrier, flooding the area with seawater and posing a serious threat to wildlife habitat and industrial assets in the area.

Authorities were forced to take immediate action.

As the submerged flood bank was not visible, it was necessary to survey the damage and calculate the type and amount of material required to repair the bank.

“The ARC-Boat/HydroSurveyor system…improved safety because it is not necessary for staff to work on the water.” 

The Environment Agency employed advanced remote control boats to survey the area and created a 3D map of the submerged, damaged flood barrier.

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By GlobalData

Such surveys are usually conducted manually from boats using gauging poles, but that would put workers at risk.

Therefore, the Environment Agency used remote controlled boats with ranges of 200m and five-beam depth sounding and velocity profiling devices that could scan the bed, while operators remained on the bank.

The SonTek HydroSurveyor software helped to analyse the recorded data and produce accurate depth and velocity measurements and the 3D maps of the water body.

Based on the data recovered from the survey, the Environment Agency repaired the damaged section and thereby protected local industry and residents.

Environment Agency’s Chris Train said the operation of the ARC-Boat was a great success. The agency was able to conduct a complete survey during an hour of slack water at the top of the tide.

“As it happened, this was undertaken at night, but we attached navigation lights to the ARC boat, so the timing was of no consequence,” Train said.

“The HydroSurveyor software created a superb map of the damage and demonstrated that the hole was significantly deeper than we had anticipated, so this data was essential in helping us to plan the remediation work.”

“The main advantages of the ARC-Boat/HydroSurveyor system are the speed with which a survey is undertaken, the quality of the data and improved safety because it is not necessary for staff to work on the water.”

Image: The remote control boat used by the Environment Agency to survey the flood barrier. Photo: courtesy of Environment Agency.