Research project to use drone to inspect New Mexico dam

Elephant Butte Lake

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (AP) – Federal water managers plan to use a drone to inspect Elephant Butte Dam.

The Bureau of Reclamation has selected New Mexico State University to lead a research project on the feasibility of using unmanned aircraft systems to inspect dams.

The project marks a first for the agency and researchers will be looking at whether light detection, infrared and high-definition video can be used as tools for infrastructure inspection.

New Mexico State has been awarded $35,000 to help with the project.

Researchers will be looking for cracks in the concrete, spalls and other subsurface defects on the dam. They’ll also be looking for any erosion or other changes to the dam and spillway.

The flight will take place in the next couple of months. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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