UAS and The Flood Control District

UAS and The Flood Control District

Unmanned Aircraft Systems and the HCFCD

The Harris County Flood Control District is testing the use of small, unmanned, remotely guided aircraft as a cost-effective tool for conducting flood control project surveys, and for collecting maintenance-related data and imagery.

The Flood Control District joins a wide range of government agencies – from public works and parks departments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – who use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to more safely and efficiently:

  • Inspect infrastructure
  • Collect geo-spatial data about what’s on the ground in a particular location
  • Conduct plant and animal species surveys

The picture on the far LEFT shows a typical UAV flight pattern within Flood Control District boundaries, and the nearby property and road images that could be captured as part of that flight. The picture on the RIGHT shows the final rendered image provided to the Flood Control District, masking private property and areas outside of Flood Control District boundaries.

With jurisdiction over more than 2,500 miles of open and closed channels across nearly 1,800 square miles, and with limited staff, the Flood Control District anticipates a variety of potential benefits from the use of UAS: 

  • They make the inspection process safer for inspectors who often need to access waterways and enter remote, overgrown areas. 
  • They allow inspectors to cover more ground in a work day, as compared to boots-on-the-ground inspections. 
  • Future applications could utilize different image-capturing capabilities to identify plant stress, and quantify success of site stabilization and tree planting sites. These tasks help to determine when a project has been successfully completed by a contractor, or to identify contractor performance issues. 

Flood Control District use of UAS technology is guided by both federal and state law, including the Texas Privacy Act. Recent contractors, HUVRdata LLC and Precision Aerial Compliance Solutions, are among UAS service providers vetted and credentialed by the National UAS Credentialing Program (NUASCP).