GIS and Water Infrastructure


The previous article in this series, provided all the basic information about GIS in a comprehensive manner. In this part, we will have a close look at how GIS plays a pivotal role in transforming the Water Infrastructure.


As we have already seen, Geographical Information System or GIS allows user to manage various data attributes and attach them to a particular geographical location. Now, let us have an in-depth look at different possibilities, which GIS can open up, specifically - in water infrastructure. Use of GIS during the master planning & designing phases, as well as for post commissioning operations and maintenance (O&M), and allied activities, can improve water infrastructure & utility's serviceability.


GIS based Hydraulic Modelling:


Hydraulic Modelling is the mathematical representation of the real life Water Networks Infrastructure, used to model and analyze the hydraulic behavior of the network under changing parameters such as demands, operating conditions, etc. Hydraulic modeling can also be used to design water networks for optimized Capex and Opex of a Water Supply Scheme.

Hydraulic Model of a Water Distribution Network in Bentley WaterGEMS; Hidden: Confidential Content.

In short, by using hydraulic models, user can find many alternative solutions, to tackle the region specific constraints like elevations, source water availability, quality of water, etc. and also to evaluate the possible design & operational options to ensure efficient functioning of the water networks infrastructure on the model before actually taking on-site decisions.


Here are some tangible benefits that GIS based hydraulic modelling can offer:

  1. Accurate Data Projection: Since GIS allows to refer and compare multiple attributes of a same geographical location, it allows for hydraulic modelling which is free of mistakes and errors. Data about users, their respective demands, available sources, future expansion plans etc. is available all at one place. This availability of data enables the engineers to consider a large number of factors in their designing and leads to the best design possible.

  2. Procurement Planning: Using GIS, we can location-wise identify the length of pipes, their material and sizes and many other details. Availability of this data makes procurement and inventory management hassle free and error free.

  3. Reduced Time of Commissioning: Important project phases like planning, designing when powered with GIS, considerably reduce the time of commissioning, thus resulting in faster project execution.

  4. Enhanced Project Feasibility: Many times, due to the constraints that exist at a particular geography, the project may seem to be infeasible or difficult to execute. Use of GIS and hydraulic modelling can open up new possibilities and enhance the project feasibility. There are many examples, where projects which were earlier thought to be infeasible, but were executed successfully.

  5. Reduced Project Costs: A better and well thought design can save large amounts of financial resources on account of reduced material and man work hours required. DTK Hydronet Solutions has brought down costs of multiple projects with the wise use of GIS aided hydraulic modelling.

Check out this Award-Winning Project Presentation, to learn how DTK powerfully deployed GIS for Designing a Water Supply Scheme.

From the above discussion, it is quite clear that GIS can add value in the pre- and post commissioning stages of water projects. Now let us have a look at how GIS can help us maintain and run efficiently the water networks which are already built and commissioned.


Role of GIS in efficient Operation and Maintenance of Water Networks


It might sound surprising but, more than 80% of the data about water networks is location specific. Assets which are part of the water networks need periodic maintenance. Even in our day to day lives, we depend so much on the location data. Imagine, how disastrous lack of location data could be while locating on ground or underground assets.


Here are some advantages which GIS can offer while operating and maintaining water networks:

  1. Reduced paperwork: Periodic field visits and inspections are required for any water infrastructure to work smoothly. Conventionally, this data is noted on papers and stored in files. Over the period, this creates significant amount of paper work and data becomes more and more difficult to retrieve. GIS enables digital storage of all this data. As a result, this data becomes very actionable and can be quickly referred to, by different personnel either on field or in the office. GIS also ensures better security and safety of this data.

  2. Tracking of Asset Records: Water networks undergo a large number of asset updates over the period. Keeping a track of the updates on paper is cumbersome. GIS enables digital tracking of all the updates which makes the entire process quick, reliable and transparent.

  3. Faster Data Collection: Recording data digitally is much faster than recording it on paper. Many Apps are available which empower field personnel to seamlessly collect data and log it online.

  4. Meeting Compliance: In many countries, civic authorities make it mandatory to back up data safely on a cloud server. GIS is inevitable for meeting such compliance.

  5. Easy Coordination: Many times, multiple teams work on same assets for different tracking and maintenance related activities. Use of GIS ensure proper coordination between all these teams and eliminate possibility of any miscommunication.

  6. Maintenance Prioritization: In any water networks, their are certain assets which fail more often than the others. Use of GIS helps in identification of such assets and plan maintenance accordingly. GIS can also tell how many users might get affected due to a particular maintenance or closure.

  7. Tracking and Reducing NRW: NRW or Non Revenue Water is one of the major concerns faced by utilities globally. GIS can play crucial role in tracking down NRW and taking effective measures to bring it down. Reduced NRW will help enhance the profitability of the utilities.

  8. Avoiding Over or Under Maintenance of Assets: There are many field studies which point out that many ties, utilities maintain same assets again and again in a short span and on the contrary, many assets are not maintained for as long as a few years. Use of GIS can solve this problem and all the maintenance data and activities can be tracked at different hierarchical levels.

  9. Maintenance Planning: If the utilities know the consumption pattern of users located in a region, the maintenance can be carried out with minimum impact on the consumers. For example, identifying optimal valves for carrying out maintenance activity of an area. Since GIS allows us to register multiple attributes about a given location, it opens possibility of ‘smart’ maintenance.


Apart from the advantages discussed above, GIS has a lot to offer to water infrastructure. Do write to us to know more about, how GIS can be used to help you manage your water networks better!


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