In this age of electronic communication, we need to upgrade to a newer form of mapping. Larger systems have an advantage in this area as they have more resources to do the information gathering. The tool they use for data acquisition is Global Position System (GPS).

GPS manually marks and records information about the collection or distribution system by using positioning satellites that, in this day, can mark a point down to 30 inches or better. This information is then compiled together as data and transferred to some sort of map, a topographic, road or physical map.

The information is the location of valves, hydrants, lines, pump station, booster chlorinators, manholes, lift stations, silt collection boxes, storm drains, etc., or basically, any asset in these systems.

As this basic location information is obtained, other pertinent information should be added to the data, such as:

  • Size of the equipment
  • Valves, (# of turns to open, direction to open/close, direction of flow, last maintenance/installation dates)
  • Pumps (size, horsepower, maintenance dates)
  • Lift station (size, horsepower, maintenance dates, draw down, percent efficiency)
  • Hydrants
  • Lines (size, type material, last flushed)
  • Anything else that pertains to system

After the data has been gathered, it’s put into a Geographic Information System (GIS). This system captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents the data that is linked to a location. Some of the reasons we use the GIS is to save money by not having to expend time and fuel trying to find a specific location, and it improves customer response time. We use the GIS to plan excavations more efficiently and spread information to another department in our system or utility that can foster better communication between departments and the public. The GIS system is becoming essential to understanding what is happing in a specific geographic area of the system.

As systems in the Commonwealth continue to evolve and grow, we are seeing smaller systems using this technology to their advantage.

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