Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Walnut Creek SUD to get geographic information system upgrade

GIS manager: ‘This is like a digital transformation’

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SPRINGTOWN — Walnut Creek Special Utility District board of directors approved moving forward with a digital system that is expected to help the district’s workers locate water lines with more ease.

The board passed a proposal from the engineering, surveying and planning company Quiddity for Geographic Information System Asset Management. Quiddity GIS Manager Duncan Flintoff said this will create a digital system of the SUD’s underground infrastructure.

“That allows you to do many other things,” Flintoff said during the board’s March 18 meeting. “It puts accurate maps in the hands of the guys in the field so that they have accurate situational awareness of what’s actually in the ground, and also it creates a platform on which you can then superimpose all of your planning, capital improvement planning, water pressure analysis.”

The system will be created using the SUD’s paper records as well as “real world data” that workers will collect along with reference photos of the location. Flintoff noted the digital system can be updated as workers make discoveries while doing excavation work.

“All they're working from is paper plans,” Flintoff said to The Tri-County Reporter. “This is like a digital transformation.”

Walnut Creek SUD General Manager James Blackwood said the new system will be a helpful tool.

“In the long run, it would save time, which would save money,” Blackwood said during the meeting before the board voted. “Right now, there’s some of these you go out there and it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack for that line.”

Blackwood added the caveat that the system can’t be set up overnight and therefore, won’t be immediately effective.

“Until we find all the lines and get them mapped, yes, it's still going to take time,” he said. “But then with this, rather than it being wrote on a piece of paper somewhere and put back with the maps, or you go in to make a note on the map (saying), ‘Well, this line is actually 20 feet over here,’ this way, you put a GPS on it; it's accurate. The next person that has to go find that line has an idea where they're going. It's not going to help us so much right here immediately, but 10 years down the line, it’s going to be invaluable.”

Because of the district’s size, the project is being split up into phases that will take about four to five years to complete, Flintoff said. The board approved the first phase, which costs $197,000 and will focus on the largest and most populated pressure zone. Phase 1 is expected to be completed during the remainder of this year.

Before voting to approve, SUD board member Jim Cox said he felt creating this action is necessary.

“It really would advance our infrastructure tremendously if we had this in place so we can keep up with our assets,” Cox said during the March meeting.