For local governments, updating and replacing components of publically funded services, such as utility systems and roads, is critical for maintaining the overall well being of the community and the happiness of its residents. One example of how a community can determine which component of a system may need to be replaced is by tracking breaks that occur within the water system mains. For the Village of Winnetka, IL Water and Electric Department, tracking this information is critical when developing a construction budget from year to year and for highlighting potential problem areas that may require future improvements. To assist with determining which water mains should be considered for replacement in the most recent budget year, the village Geographic Information System (GIS) department was asked to generate a map highlighting all the mains in the village that had recorded breaks over the past 25 years.
Using previously mapped water main data and the recorded water main break locations, the GIS department was able to link individual main break records to specific water mains. Once the break records were linked to the main data, the number of breaks per main could be calculated and used for mapping across the village. An additional component that needed to be considered as part of the budgeting process was past water system improvements that were not captured by the raw main break data. By factoring in system mains that were already replaced or repaired during previous years, the GIS department was able to filter out numerous main breaks that would have otherwise been included in the analysis, thereby providing a more accurate product that reflected the true number of breaks within the system.
Using GIS to analyze the water main break information tracked by the Water and Electric department provided a powerful analysis and visualization tool for viewing this information across the entire village. Providing a spatial, easy-to-understand final product allowed department staff to make more informed decisions regarding the next year’s construction budget, leading to more responsible fiscal spending and better resource management.