Whether it is to take a shower or fill up a glass of water, people
use water everyday. Although the process 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 are something that they take
seriously. In order maintain the water system, the Village of Oak Brook
decided to investigate the strength of the water utility system.
When a water main break occurs in the water system, it is reported to
Public Works Department, who service the break. The location and
description of water main repaired is recorded on a break report sheet
and the address or intersection of the break is entered into a
spreadsheet. The water main breaks are then hand drawn on a map by the
village engineer based off of the spreadsheet. This is a time consuming
and inefficient process as information on the water main break, year,
pipe material, etc. are not transferred onto the map. In order to more
efficiently track the water main breaks, the village enlisted the
resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS) department.
By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses recorded for
each water main break could easily be given a geographic location
through 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.
Using this information, the village was able to plot the water main
breaks in five year increments from 1978 to 2009. Further analysis was
performed to create a map classifying the number of water main breaks
per pipe segment. Soil information from the Illinois Geological Survey
was overlaid onto the water main break data to determine if the soil
type contributed to the water main breaks. These maps allowed
Engineering and Public Works to locate the problematic areas and decide
which water mains needed to be replaced.
The maps created from this project are studied and eventually brought
before the budget committee when considering how much money should be
allocated for fixing these problems and what areas are given higher
priority. 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.