When operating a Group Water Scheme – network maintenance is a critical function and information is key. Knowing the location of pipework, valves, fittings and other services is vital for identifying and repairing of leaks, flushing of mains and maintaining water quality and quantity.
In the past, many group water schemes relied on one or two individual’s local knowledge, with little information or infrastructure fully documented. Thankfully, this practice is changing and the NFGWS is actively promoting GWSs to record and map all of their assets. Over the past few years, many GWSs has embarked on various projects to collect this data and there are now some excellent examples of how this information can be captured and used.
The first step in mapping GWS infrastructure is to collect information on the location of infrastructure (consumer meters, bulk meters, sluice valves, air valves, scour valves, fire hydrants, water pipes, sites, etc.). This can be done with the use of GPS surveying equipment, GWS are able to gather the exact locations of all infrastructure of the scheme.
A GPS location is assigned to each item of infrastructure along with any other information that the GWS may wish to record. Each water meter can be assigned to a specific consumer and with the relevant Eircode’s etc.
This information can be used to help map the entire GWS distribution system. Once all data is recorded, there are several ways of presenting this data, but the most popular way is on a good old fashion paper map.
An electronic database can be developed with information for meter readings, repairs, flushing, invoices, etc. Many GWSs are starting to use this information as part of their daily operations and Quality Assurance System implementation. GWS infrastructure can be located by inputting its GPS location into a handheld device.
Some GWS have taken it to the next level, making certain information available on their website that can be accessed on a computer or smartphone.