GPS Tracking for Water Lines

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Water authorities in Webster County, Kentucky now have GPS tracking for their water lines. With help from outside experts, the multi-step process is starting to pay off. Although the initial unit is operational, the system will require tweaking and more data entry to meet its maximum potential and usefulness. Authorities believe that the GPS system will transform the way it currently operates.


Water Line Database

The water authorities are in the process of building a database to contain all the information that employees would need to know in the field, such as the location of water lines, how deep they are entrenched, and where the nearest valves are located. This data, once collected will be accessible by GPS and therefore employees can get to it readily when they need to fix a problem.


Gathering Current Data

Current tasks for the water district employees include mapping all the existing water lines in the county. Special marking cable which is easily detected from the surface has been used in some of the newer lines, making them easy to find. Older lines are being located with the intent to map them to the GPS unit.


Informational Efficiency

Once it is fully operational, the GPS tracking on Webster County’s water lines will enable employees to locate water lines and shut off valves in just seconds. The GPS unit will provide information as to the depth of the line as well as its size and type. Shut off points will also be mapped and their nearest locations included in the data.


Future Implications

It will be interesting to see whether other counties inside and outside the state of Kentucky take Webster County’s lead to approve the use of GPS units in their water pipelines. Much will depend on exactly how much time the technology saves workmen who are trying to locate water lines and, in emergency or maintenance situations, shut off the water. Perhaps future technology will reveal the nature of problems in the pipe lines when customers call in, or maybe even control water flow from a remote location based on information gathered using the GPS unit. In any case, it is certainly a progressive step for these county water authorities to experiment with GPS tracking as it applies to water lines.

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Katherine Stephens

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