Whether it is to take a shower or fill up a glass of water people use
the resource of water everyday. Although the process of getting this
resource to the consumers seems to happen without much exposure, it is
definitely noticed when the water stops running. The procedures that a
local community conducts in order to provide their residents with clean
and useable water is something that they take very seriously; so it is
no wonder why they continually investigate the strength of the water
utility infrastructure. For the Village of Morton Grove they have
decided to do just that.
Every time a water main break occurs within the village limits it is
first reported to the public works department and then it is serviced.
The third process that the Village of Morton Grove performs is to track
the closest address to where the water main break occurred. These
addresses are then entered into a spreadsheet every month and stored
away for records sake. Although this method was efficient it lacked one
final step that would allow for the village engineers to truly study
what was happening to their water utility system, a visual component.
Having a visual component would help the engineers to analyze where the
most water main breaks were occurring and if they were continuing to
happen on the same water main. This is where the village enlisted the
resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS) department.
By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses that were
recorded for each water main break could easily be given a geographic
location on the earth based on a process called geocoding. Geocoding is
an operation that searches a street centerline data layer and locates
where an address falls on a particular street within a specific block.
Once these addresses are located, they are then placed on a map in order
to analyze where the most breaks occur.
In addition to plotting the water main break locations by month the
village decided that the true benefit would come by mapping out these
incidents per year and even more in depth, by multiple years. In total,
this type of analysis allowed for the village to locate the most
problematic areas of town and decide on what water mains might actually
need to be replaced before more breaks continue to come about.
Since the inception of this project the analysis has been performed
at least once a year. Moreover, the maps that are generated from the
project are studied and eventually brought before the budget committee
when considering how much money should be allocated for fixing these
problems. All in all, it is easy to see how taking data from a simple
spreadsheet and using it within GIS has converted a simple recording
project into an analysis tool that the village can ultimately use in
order to provide their residents with the valuable resource of water.