ENVIRONMENT Southland (ES) has a new $27,000 piece of equipment.
ES staff were at the Makarewa River testing a Q boat last week.
The Q boat was a remote-controlled battery-powered driverless boat with twin propellers to drive it against a river’s current, ES senior environmental officer Warren McNamara said.
About a metre in length and weighing about 20kg, with a top speed of 4 to 6 metres per second, the Q boat remains stationary on the river’s surface and uses an on-board miniature sonar system to measure the current’s strength, Mr McNamara said.
ES hydrologist Phil McCartney said sound waves sent out by the boat detected particles being carried along in the river. The river’s speed could then be calculated from how fast the particles were travelling.
The Q boat could be used to safely collect data when river levels were too high or too swift for staff to wade in, he said.
However, Mr McNamara said the boat could not be used on rough-surfaced rivers.
The Q boat would be used to plot the flows of Southland rivers and the public could access the information on the ES website, Mr McNamara said.
“A lot of people use and rely on that information for flood events,” he said.