Water Security Agency
December 9, 2021

Aerial Drones Let the Water Security Agency See More to Keep Saskatchewan’s Dams Safe

Thermal video taken by aerial drone, Gardiner Dam, October 2021

The Water Security Agency (WSA) is working on a pilot project carrying out structural inspections at Gardiner Dam using an aerial drone to gather enhanced data and images.

The pilot program using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was carried out over several days using thermal & high-resolution imaging, LiDAR, and even acoustic scanning to develop a more comprehensive condition map of this vital part of the province’s infrastructure.

Conducting structural inspections is a key aspect in ensuring dam safety and structural integrity. Visual inspections play an important part in this process but by adding these enhanced tools WSA engineers are able to see deeper into the structure itself.

This technology is buildable, meaning that WSA engineers will be able to track, and monitor changes more effectively overly time, in a digital environment.

Gardiner Dam was first constructed in 1967 and along with the Qu’Appelle River Dam creates the 225 km long Lake Diefenbaker, the province’s largest reservoir. Lake Diefenbaker supplies water to more than a third of Saskatchewan’s people who rely on it for irrigation, power generation, recreation, municipal & industrial use, as well as wildlife habitat. Gardiner Dam stands 64 metres (over 200 feet) tall and is five kilometres long.