Monitoring coastal dunes and drink water supply with drones

Building with nature for safe flood defences and clean drink water supplies

Posted on 2 June 2016


Accommodating multiple coastal functions in one coastal system, demands an integrated approach to coastal zone management. The waterboard (Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier ( and drink water company (PWN ( applied this approach at the coast near Amsterdam. A coastal defense system, ‘t Kieftenvlak, has been strengthened whilst securing also the fresh water infiltration and storage facilities for drinking water for over 2 million Dutch citizens. Artificial dunes have been created with the very sediment obtained from artificially created dune blow-outs in the very same area. The idea is that these blow-outs form a corridor for beach sediments to be blown into the natural dune system, strengthening the dune system in a natural way.

Shore Monitoring & Research uses drones to monitor the natural evolution of the dune system and safety of the drinking water infiltration facilities, near real-time. Digital terrain models and orthophotos with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions are derived from the aerial images and analyzed to quantify sediment transport, volume changes, threshold surface levels and vegetation coverage. Near real-time data and reports enables coastal zone managers to be well informed, which benefits decision making. The intuitive character of the data allows for dissemination over multiple departments of the waterboard and drink water company (such as ecology, enforcement, inspection, maintenance and communication) making this way of monitoring not only effective, but also very cost-efficient.

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