The Guilford County Department of Public Health – a division of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services – is going to finally get eyes in the sky thanks to the flood of money from the American Rescue Plan Act, which is still flowing through the governmental pipelines.

Specifically, the department is buying a state-of-the-art DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise drone with an advanced telescopic camera, along with extra battery packs as well as advanced GIS software and license.

 In addition, as part of the $17,000 price tag, some members of the public health department will get training on how to use the drone so they don’t, say, crash it into a telephone pole or drop it in a lake.

Though flying drones can be a very entertaining past time, that’s not why the health department purchased the advanced highly portable light-weight flying craft.

The drone is going to be used for “the detailed scanning of wells [and] septic systems, and locating abandoned wells.”

 According to a memo from staff to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the technology “ensures team safety and operational efficiency.”  It can often be difficult to properly inspect wells and septic systems from the ground, and the use of the drone should take a lot of legwork out of searching for abandoned wells.

Over the years, the cameras and imaging abilities of drones has grown and they’re becoming more and more popular for inspecting all sorts of things from the air.

The American Rescue Plan Act money going to the Health Department is part of a $50,000 federal grant that comes through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding may be used for any of what are considered “essential” public health programs or purposes; however, the money can’t be used to “supplant current state, federal or local funding.” In other words, it must be spent supporting somewhat special programs or extra items not covered in the ordinary departmental budget.

The health department is using the remainder of the $50,000 grant to support other programs and departmental training.