Cloverdale council approves geolocation for town utilities

Friday, August 14, 2015
Banner Graphic/Sabrina Westfall
Cloverdale Town Manager Wayne Galloway said the current maps used for finding assets for utilities are outdated. The old maps are difficult to navigate, especially for an employee new to the area. The GIS system would send GPS coordinates to a mobile device, which would keep employees from having to make continuous trips to the plant to try and locate a manhole, meter or valve.

CLOVERDALE -- The Town of Cloverdale hopes to save time and money when the geographic information system (GIS) program is installed for the utilities department.

The program will allow the utilities to assign GPS coordinates for each of the town's assets, such as valves, meters and manholes.

The Cloverdale Town Council approved the purchase of the software at Tuesday's council meeting through WTH Technologies at the cost of $24,924.50. Town Manager Wayne Galloway explained the initial start-up cost will include software, training, administrative access for the utilities department and unlimited access to other town departments to the maps and information.

Once the training is complete, Alliance Water and Wastewater will mark each of the valves, meters and manholes with a GPS coordinate, which will be easily accessible from mobile devices and computers within four inches of the asset. The utilities department will be able to upload digital images, videos and quickly access work orders called into the town hall.

Galloway said the cost will be $8 a "point" for each marked item. There are about 1,000 meters, 75 fire hydrants and roughly 300 valves. While the initial cost may seem steep, Galloway stressed this project will ultimately save the town money and resources.

He noted due to recent projects, most of the sewer information is already up-to-date on a map created by engineering firm Curry and Associates.

One of the major issues the utilities department has come across in recent years is the current state of the maps used to locate the town's assets. There are three maps pieced together for each the water and wastewater assets. He stressed the maps are outdated and only about 80 percent accurate.

To create a new paper map would cost thousands of dollars due to having to hire an engineering firm to locate each point for the map. Due to the inaccuracies on the current maps, it would take extra time to find newly installed points as well as use the man power of the town's employees to help with location.

"Some of the old school guys would say, 'I've got it up here,'" Galloway said, pointing to his head. "Now, the issue is those guys are no longer here.

"When I came first came in November, I would go out to look for a meter and have to call Richard (Saucerman) or someone and say, 'All right, where is this?' Because now it was under a tree or a bush because someone planted over a meter."

Galloway cited a recent issue at Cloverdale Community School Corporation, in which contractors were on site for a series of construction projects and went to the town to locate water lines on the property. The outdated map did not account for one of the lines, causing the construction company to break through it.

With the GIS in place, every new line, meter and valve will be documented on the digital map as soon as it is implemented without having to spend the thousands of dollars to update the town's maps.

Each time a new home or business is built, a new meter has to be put on the property as well as new valves each time someone taps into the town's water supply.

"On Burma Road, a guy just tapped into the sewer line, so we had to dig a pit and put in a brand new meter. Well right then, we could GPS and put it into the system. You can take pictures of it, how you put it in, what you put it in with, what equipment we needed. Tomorrow if I'm gone and that comes up again, our guy would be like, 'What did they do?' ... They will know what kind of line was used and what equipment was used to do it," Galloway said.

In addition, the town is currently averaging about 140 work orders on various water and sewer related issues. Currently after each job the employee has to go to the Town Hall for the work order, then complete the paperwork once it is finished before going back to get another set of work orders.

"It'll (the program) send the address of the house or business. Instead of us looking at the map to find the meter, hydrant and manhole, it's right there and you type in the address. You don't have to go look at the map. You don't have to come in the office and get a work order. When we get done with that job, we type in what we did, send it back in and it will have the next work order," Galloway explained.

Galloway said he believes the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) will eventually make the GIS programs mandatory in all communities. Implementing it now will allow the town to be proactive.

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