SA Water deploys remote-control boats Plop-eye, Indeepship to monitor sludge

"Plop-eye" and "Indeepship" are the names cheeky SA Water staff have given to two remote-control boats they will use to do a job no human would ever want.

The boats will be launched into the sludge ponds at waste water treatment plants in Murray Bridge and used to monitor sediment build-up.

Each is equipped with a sonar device that can help SA Water staff understand how often the ponds should be cleaned out to keep unpleasant smells from drifting into surrounding neighbourhoods.

Production and treatment senior manager Lisa Hannant said the technology could make that task more efficient and, yes, even fun.

"The boats are controlled in a similar way to other battery-powered model vehicles, with a sonar unit scanning the bottom of the lagoon and recording data to an SD memory card that is then overlaid with a Google Earth map to visually display the sludge depths," she said.

"Maintaining public health is a serious responsibility, so we take hold of any lighter moments that come up."

Treatment plant operators would previously have boarded a full-size boat themselves and taken manual depth measurements in a grid pattern.

The plants at Murray Bridge and Mannum treat 2.1 million and 810,000 litres of waste each day, respectively.

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