Cherokee Nation Technologies Supporting Millsite Dam Rehabilitation Efforts


Millsite Dam is located near the town of Ferron in Emery County, Utah.

Unmanned aerial systems help increase safety and longevity of high hazard dam.

Press Release

EMERY COUNTY, Utah – Cherokee Nation Technologies is supporting the Natural Resources Conservation Service in its efforts to rehabilitate the Millsite Dam. The company is using its experience in Unmanned Aerial Systems to safely provide information to advance the USDA-led project.

CNT is utilizing the power of UAS to collect imagery and elevation data. The collaboration will enhance the dam by ensuring it meets current safety regulations and engineering standards while extending the life of the dam by 50 to 100 years.

UAS support is safe, efficient and the least invasive method of gathering data and protecting the area’s natural resources. The method gathers high-resolution infrared sensor and color imaging data. 

NRCS previously assessed Millsite Dam and concluded it doesn’t meet safety and engineering standards for a dam with such high hazard potential, meaning improper operation or failure could result in a potential loss of life.

“This project is an excellent example of how private industry can collaborate with government agencies to implement cost-effective, safe and cutting-edge technologies,” said Owen Unangst, operating general manager for Cherokee Nation Technologies. “I fully expect UAS technology to quickly gain momentum as a critical and effective tool for NRCS in its effort to support the nation’s agricultural community.”

CNT’s UAS technology offers precise detection of vegetation types and individual plant species, including the potential presence of endangered plants such as San Rafael cactus. CNT also provided a point-cloud model demonstrating the dam embankment, spillway and channel, as well as a digital surface model covering 710 acres located around the dam.

The collected data can be used for archival comparison and monitoring as the current structures age or should safety issues like seepage or erosion develop over time.

Millsite Dam was originally constructed in 1971 for the primary purpose of irrigation, as well as municipal and industrial water storage, but it also offered the additional benefits of flood preservation and recreational activities.

The Ferron Reservoir and Canal Company, which sponsored the rehabilitation project, controls the dam’s reservoir and associated structures.

CNT provides a full spectrum of unmanned systems expertise, IT services and technology solutions, as well as management and support of programs, projects, professionals and technical staff.

Since 2009, the company has been serving government clients with time-tested solutions that increase client effectiveness through the intelligent use of technology. CNT’s expertise includes software and application services, network services and business process services. The company is headquartered in Tulsa, with a regional office in Ft. Collins, Colorado and client locations nationwide. Wholly owned by the Cherokee Nation, CNT is part of the Cherokee Nation Businesses family of companies.

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