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Multispectral imaging camera aids water conservation efforts in coastal Georgia

The Coastal Rivers Water Policy and Planning Center recently added a multispectral imaging camera to its arsenal of tools for gathering information about water use in the Savannah-Ogeechee River Basin. The camera, purchased with $268,000 of federal funds earmarked for water conservation, produces colorful digital images that demonstrate areas where water is plentiful and areas that are dry.

‘The multispectral imaging camera can see spectrums of light that are not seen by the human eye,” said Ben Thompson, director of the Coastal Rivers Water Policy and Planning Center (WPPC). ‘With this camera we’ve been able to take aerial photos that show where water is plentiful and where it is not.”

Thompson pointed out a number of ways this type of information is useful. Farmers, who must rely on both rain and irrigation, can use the images to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of their irrigation and planting methods. Communities could use the images to track land use planning, identify wetlands, and study changes in rivers and tidewater areas. Developers can use the images to minimize impacts on water quantity and quality.

‘This camera adds to the steadily increasing amount of research that’s available to help make good decisions about how our region should use its water resources,” he said. ‘Science provides us with the facts about our water resources, but science alone isn’t enough to make policy. The Center is here to make the science available, to bring people together for discussion, and to advise on policy when making important decisions about this limited resource. The spectral imaging camera allows us to help others in the region.”

The Coastal Rivers WPPC, located in the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University, is part of a statewide consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University System of Georgia to help regional stakeholders”from farmers to housing developers to individual families”make informed decisions about water use and conservation.

‘The people in the coastal area of Georgia are pleased to have a research and policy center in their region. Coastal Rivers WPPC helps decision-makers in this region deal with problems that exist in this region,” said Thompson. ‘The Center is also a good fit for Georgia Southern’s mission, which includes service to the region.”

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