OPG sends out the drones to help fight invasive plant species
To keep invasive Phragmites in check at the Western Waste Management site in Kincardine, Ontario Power Generation recently deployed drones to collect data that will help control the unwanted plant’s growth.
Invasive Phragmites, also known as European common reed, is an extremely aggressive plant that is listed as restricted under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act. For decades, it has caused damage to Ontario’s biodiversity, wetlands and beaches by outcompeting native vegetation for water and nutrients as well as releasing toxins from its roots that threaten surrounding plants.
As part of OPG’s Onsite Biodiversity Program, the company successfully mapped the affected wetland area, called Baie du Doré, and gathered data on how Phragmites is impacting this area in Bruce County. Working with OPG’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles team, part of the Innovation and Reactor Inspection (IRI) division, environment staff were able to get a clear, bird’s eye view of the site thanks to the drones.
“One of the many benefits to drone technology is that we are able to see areas that are not easily accessible by foot,” said Gerry McKenna, Section Manager of Environment (Corporate Programs) with OPG. “This is a great adaptation of technology for ecological assessments and it ultimately saves OPG time and money.”
The data collected will help shape an effective plan to deal with the invasive plant. Actions taken will include cutting and removing Phragmites in the affected wetland, which will be a combined effort with Bruce Power, operator of the nearby Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.
OPG plans to work with IRI to deploy more drones in October for vegetation mapping of the 50-hectare wetland near the Lennox Generating Station. Information collected from this flyover will help determine the timing for water drawdowns at OPG’s Lennox wetland.