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Water & Wastewater Systems rise to a new level with ArcGIS and Geodatabase

The Augusta County Service Authority (ACSA), located in Virginia’s central Shenandoah Valley, needed a more comprehensive management and decision tool for its water and wastewater utility systems. No longer adequate for the growing service area, the authority’s 1,000 square-mile utility mapping system desperately needed an upgrade.

To continue to provide effective service for approximately 12,000 customers in this rural area, ACSA decided to implement an advanced geographic information system (GIS) to manage its water and wastewater systems. Like many local government agencies, ACSA had been relying on utility drawings, computer aided design and drafting (CADD), and employee knowledge to manage its systems. Although ACSA had CADD-based water modeling software, the specific information it provided limited its usefulness.

To solve this problem, GeoDecisions, a software-independent consulting company and ESRI business partner, was selected to develop, integrate, and customize a robust data model and to design custom applications to meet ACSA’s management needs. Maintaining network connectivity and data integrity were ACSA’s primary goals. ESRI’s ArcGIS and Geodatabase were selected as the tools to develop the new GIS. The Geodatabase design was based on ESRI’s water and wastewater data model.

GeoDecisions worked with ACSA to customize this model to reflect the real world features in its water and wastewater systems. After GeoDecisions completed the Geodatabase design, ACSA’s existing data layers were updated and new layers were created, using a combination of global positioning system (GPS) technology and as-builts (utility drawings). Water meters, pumps, tanks, manholes, and other major point features were captured with GPS and imported into the Geodatabase.

Next, ACSA wanted an easy way to retrieve and maintain GIS data, in addition to updating and adding new features. A water/sewer data maintenance application was created by customizing ArcMap 8.1 with ArcObjects and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). This custom application allows users to interactively view and edit the attributes of a chosen feature with standardized entry forms. The application also recognizes the addition of a new feature to the geometric network and automatically displays the attribute interface to the user.

After completing the data conversion process, the focus of the project shifted to integrating the new GIS database with existing non-geographic data management tools. ACSA currently uses a mainframe billing database and server for water meter information. However, to provide a more efficient means for retrieving this information, a custom billing application was developed to incorporate the billing data with the meter data in the Geodatabase. This application allows the user to obtain current and past billing information for a chosen water meter, search for meters meeting certain criteria, or to select data for calculations and analysis. So far, ArcGIS and Geodatabase have only been implemented in one of ACSA’s service areas.