Water Loss Audit Follow-up – Part 2 Mapping

We recently posted a “Part 1” in our discussion of Water Loss Audits that provided a brief background of the need for an Audit as well as one recommended way to increase your “score” and therefore reduce lost water! Part 2 of this discussion will focus on an indirect way to reduce lost water: mapping.

One important component of the water loss audit is the total length of water mains in the system. It is common for this information, particularly in older portions of a system, to be kept via dusty old maps and paper as-builts. While these maps can help provide a general idea of the system’s layout, the lack of updating and digital backup can lead to errors and gaps in knowledge as staffing changes occur over time. In our aging and retiring industry, maintaining knowledge of the system can prove to be a priceless asset.

Various resources are available to improve a utility’s mapping – digitizing existing maps, physically locating lines (via potholing, survey, and fieldwork), and incorporating these into a GIS system, to name a few. Advantages of GIS systems and other digital mapping resources can be found abound in utility literature and at technical conferences. As regulations continue to require “lists” and “inventories”, GIS systems may become the standard practice for maintaining a utility. Commonwealth utilizes top-of-the-line methods for data collection and digitizing, and we have worked with various GIS providers on incorporating this data into a system that is useable for the utility’s office staff and operators.

One example of a use for a GIS Mapping Database, directly for decreasing water loss, would be by using the “Work Ticket” features to input and track where breaks, leaks, or other issues occur commonly. Visualizing this on a map can allow the utility to identify where future improvement projects should be performed to correct deficient mains, service lines, or valves.

We would be happy to discuss options for your specific community! Reach out to Commonwealth for assistance if your system mapping could use some modernization. Updating your system mapping can not only improve your water loss audit score but simplify day-to-day operations.