Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2017 - 37
Rural Water District Finds
Effective GIS Support
BY TRAVIS ANDERSON, DISTRICT ENGINEER, LE-AX WATER DISTRICT
When I came to
work at Le-Ax
Water District in the fall of 2009, they
had just finished gathering GPS points
on all the aboveground assets. With
Ohio University's Institute of Local
Government Administration and Rural
Development (ILGARD) providing technical
resources, Le-Ax had finally put together
all the pieces and had a functioning GIS.
From that point on, it was the district's
responsibility to maintain.
The continued task of gathering points
was placed on the maintenance crew.
Since they were responsible for installing
taps, meters and valves, making repairs
and exposing lines, it made the most
sense to have them collect the asset
locations. Periodically, I would take the
handheld GPS unit from the staff and pull
the new points into ArcMap.
The two main problems that came
to light were technical knowledge of the
equipment/ software and the amount
of time the handheld unit needed to
acquire accuracy. Le-Ax plodded along
with the handhelds, but it was not a
productive period for our GIS. Searching
the marketplace, I came across a simple
mobile app that utilized shape files by
projecting them onto an aerial background.
The internal GPS of the phone would show
your location. It wasn't accurate, and it
wasn't easy getting the coordinates set up,
but it did work. When I showed it to staff,
everyone's attitude toward GIS changed.
When Collector for ArcGIS was
released, I knew this would be our next
step into using iPads in the field, I just
had to figure out how to use it. A search
on Esri's site revealed plenty of back-andforth between users and Esri support staff,
and online tutorials for Collector provided
guidance on creating maps and making