Peter Keum


WTD GIS Senior Specialist

Use of RPAS* for Wastewater Treatment Division

June 15, 2023

FAA Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot

Remotely Piloted Aircraft System


Summary of KC Wastewater Treatment Division RPAS Program







RPAS Program

So Let's Dive into the program 

RPAS - Remotely Piloted Aircraft System

FAA Definition: Unmanned Aircraft (UA) system that is operated by a pilot via ground control or on-board computer. 

  • Fly under 400 feet above ground level

  • Not to fly < 5 nautical miles around airport

  • Aircraft < 55 lbs.

  • Fly during daytime or night time operation with appropriate lighting

  • Fly visual line of sight ( VLOS)

  • No flight over non-participating people

FAA Part 107 Rule *

RPAS as Platform


Fixed-wing & VTOL

  • Shorter flight time (< 45 min)
  • Cover smaller area
  • Highly maneuverable
  • Less expensive
  • Access to confined spaces
  • Long flight time (+ 40min)
  • Covers very large area

(vertical take-off & land)

King County WTD

   August, 2016 - Approved of using 3rd party drone operator (ORM & PA)

    April, 2021 - "permissible to operate drones indoor or in confined spaces for specialized uses, like inspections." - Offie Of Risk Management (ORM)

 June, 2021 - Approved to Started RPAS Pilot Program in WTD

WTD RPAS Dashboard


June - Dec.


Jan. - May

Number of Flights


Jan. - Dec.

June 2023

  • Three FAA Part 107 Drone Certified Pilots - WTD GIS Specialists (Jim, Patrick, and Peter)
  • Helping other departments to stand up their own RPAS programs

Two Spaces for Drone




  • GPS Signal
  • Automated Planning and Flight
  • Even, Diffuse lighting
  • Open space


  • No GPS signal
  • Limits on speed and motion
  • Manual flight control
  • Tight spaces



DJI Mavic 2 Pro < $1,800

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Ent. Adv ~ $6,500

DJI FPV w/ Modification ~ $6,500

Mavic 3 Ent

~ $3,800

20 MP/ 56x zoom

20 MP

12 MP/ 32x zoom

Flight Control App  

  • Automate Flight Planning - Fly Consistently for overlapping images
  • Can fly manually but it's like mowing with scissors

Example: Auto flight plan

Result 3D Model

Data Processing   

  • Cloud Storage & Cloud Data Processing
  • Flight Planning from Desktop - fly on Mobile (controller)
  • Cloud storage/Cloud Processing 
  • Centralized System
  • Project Deliverables

Why Use Drones?

3 E's

  • Easy

  • Efficient

  • Effective

Why Use Drones?

Easy - Simple with little effort



Efficient - Results without waste




Effective - Producing Results

Why Use Drones?

Easy - Simple with little effort



Why Use Drones?

Efficient - Results without waste

Safety of staffs

Save Time & $$

Why Use Drones?

Effective - Producing Results

  • Environmental Monitoring


August 2022

March 2022

April 2023

  • Construction Site Monitoring


  • Construction Site Monitoring


  • Update 2D aerial map


GIS Integration

Where are we now?

Where are we heading?

Let's go find solution

WA GISA DroneSIG - What is it?

Washington GIS Association Drone Special Interest Group

Washington GIS Association Drone Special Interest Group

  • Email Sign-up
  • Resources
  • Every 3rd Thursday
  • ZOOM Meeting
  • 148 Members

WA GISA Conf - State of KC WTD Drone Program

By Peter Keum

WA GISA Conf - State of KC WTD Drone Program

Brief introduction of drone hardware and its workflow. Various use cases within WTD. Three main points of developing drone program within WTD 3 E's - Easy, Efficient, and Effective tools to do the work.

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