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    Posted March 13, 2014 by
    Boynton Beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Remote aerial photography

    Drone Environmental Monitoring

    The environmental group, Palm Beach County Reef Rescue, employs an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a.k.a. drone, to monitor south Florida beach renourishment projects. The drone records video, documenting project conditions and collects water samples for permit compliance analysis.

    Beach renourishment projects have the potential to generate large clouds of silt. In southeast Florida where nearshore coral reefs exist the silt can be transported by currents and settle onto the coral smothering it. For this reason permits issued for this work limit the spatial extent (mixing zone) of project generated silt plumes. Areas outside the mixing zone are monitored for permit defined turbidity (cloudiness) limits measured as nephelometric turbidity units (NTU).

    Often, due to a lack of regulatory oversight and contractor noncompliance silt plumes extend miles beyond the permitted limits negatively impacting nearby coral reefs. For this reason the coral reef watchdog group Reef Rescue monitors beach renourishment projects to ensure permit compliance by performing in-water reef surveys, water analysis and aerial monitoring.

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