New system updates old water facility records
Officials of the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) in Riverside County, Calif., wanted to create a GIS to help them manage their 96 square miles. They did that, despite the fact that the district employs 125 people, only two of whom are GIS specialists.
The original GIS, which included little geographic data, was very basic and was used primarily for map generation. Still, its map-generating qualities piqued interest in its expansion, and EVMWD began data-collection efforts in earnest. The resulting data-conversion project involved creation of comprehensive GIS data sets using 5,000 drawings; use of GPS for areas with no design drawings; and interviews with long-time employees to elicit information that was previously unrecorded.
After the data-conversion project, the GIS was complete, but non-GIS personnel found it difficult to access the data. Consequently, GIS personnel were constantly consulted about simple matters, such as district boundaries, sewer and water line size, and the age of particular lines. Because the GIS database was growing, it became clear that a fast, easy-to-use interface hadto be found to enable enterprise-wide access.
Using MapObjects from Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI, and Microsoft Visual Basic as the building blocks for the interface, GIS personnel created the EVMWD GIS Explorer. Built as a client/server application, the program leaves a small footprint on the client machines. It allows users to access the GIS database on a Windows NT server.
The new application answers most GIS questions and allows non-GIS personnel to do analyses, create detailed layouts and print maps directly from their computers. “Having the GIS at my fingertips has cut my research time in half,” says Engineering Services Coordinator Val Tusler. “When I have an inquiry, I no longer have to go into the records vault and shuffle through several drawings to get my answer.”
Users of the system range from management to field personnel, and the database has become a bridge between the district’s past and its future. Of the GIS’s utility in locating EVMWD’s facilities, District General Manager Jim Laughlin says, “If you don’t know where your [water] system is, you don’t have a system.”