Water Supply Scenario Mapping


Most municipal governments don’t have a local water source they can
access directly to supply their residents and businesses, so, as a
result, they are forced to purchase water from surrounding
municipalities that do have access or regional utility management
agencies who pump it in from outside locations. As the economy
continues to struggle, the fees and costs associated with managing a
government, including those used to purchase and distribute water,
continue to rise. For the City of Des Plaines, IL, which receives its
water from the City of Chicago, this rising cost of purchasing water has
lead the city’s Public Works and Engineering Department to start
examining alternative supply sources to ensure it can adequately supply
water with the same amount of funds moving forward.

To assist with reviewing the available alternate water sources, the
Public Works and Engineering Department asked the city’s Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) department to create a map showing both the
source location of the water, as well as proposed distributions systems
for supplying the water to the city and its neighbors. While the
initial analysis of where the water would come from was done before the
map was created, being able to visualize all the proposed sources and
their associated system enhancements provided the department with a tool
for presenting each supply option to the city council in an engaging
and easy-to-understand format that allowed to council to better
understand the options available to the city. Without using GIS to
design the water source scenario map, discussing the water supply
information, while still possible, would have been more time consuming
for the department staff to prepare for and, potentially, more difficult
for the council members to understand.