We are pleased to announce that the Willow Creek Reservoir Emergency Survey and Mapping project was recently awarded top honors from the 2019 ACEC Montana Engineering Excellence Awards in the category of Survey and Mapping Technology.

In June of 2018, record rainfall and flooding throughout the Sun River Basin in central Montana pushed water levels at the Willow Creek Reservoir to concerning levels. With concerns that the excess water could erode the earthen emergency spillway, the Bureau of Reclamation needed to safely collect a large amount of aerial data regarding current conditions at the spillway site in a short period of time.

DJ&A has long supported the Reclamation’s survey and mapping needs, completing more than 260 projects for Reclamation since 1995. Due to this long-standing working relationship, Reclamation called upon DJ&A to see if we could complete this emergency project within 24 hours.

After receiving the call on Thursday afternoon, we mobilized a UAV flight crew to the project site the following morning. Our Vapor 55 UAV, equipped with a RIEGL VUX-1LR LiDAR scanner, flew roughly 400 feet above ground level to gather the necessary LiDAR data while also simultaneously collecting ortho-corrected photography of the spillway.

Data collection was completed that evening, and the crew headed back to the office the next morning to immediately begin data processing. Ortho-corrected photography files were delivered to the Bureau of Reclamation on Saturday, with a 1-ft contour site map and digital terrain model from the LiDAR data delivered later the following week.

We were honored to complete this complex project on behalf of one of our long-term clients. Through the use of our UAV, Reclamation was able to document and analyze rapidly changing conditions at the reservoir without putting human life in danger, and ensured they had the information they needed to quickly respond in case conditions further deteriorated.

Read more about this project here.