Managing utility assets is a critical function of local government
and can often encompass a significant portion of a Public Works
department’s yearly operating budget. A specific component of utility
management is addressing sanitary sewer backup issues that can cause
damage to residential and commercial properties by creating standing
water or sewage in basements and other areas. To assist with analyzing
recent sanitary backup complaints from residents, the Village of
Winnetka used Geographic Information System (GIS) to compare each backup
location to village designated sanitary system maintenance zones.
The first step in this project was to map out the boundaries of each
sanitary maintenance zone as determined by Public Works department
staff. These zones, or sectors, relate to yearly maintenance and capital
improvement areas and are used to divide the system up to help make it
more manageable. By comparing these sector boundaries to the list of
backup complaints, the department was able to identify neighborhoods
within the village where more backups were occurring. This more refined
view of the problem allowed department staff to develop more directed
and efficient solutions specific to each system sector by determining if
the issue was related to the age of the system in that area, poor
Using GIS to analyze sanitary backup locations provided the Village
of Winnetka with a powerful tool for better utility asset management.
Instead of looking at the backups across the entire system, the Public
Works department was able to identify specific problem areas and more
effectively implement and manage proposed solutions.