Efficiency and sustainability are paramount to the success of any water system. The St. Kitts Water Services Department (WSD) has initiated a proactive strategy for enhancing the management of its water distribution system. The strategy was structured around the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to characterize and map the water system features throughout the island of St. Kitts.
The overall objective of the project was to establish a multi-functional GIS database. The GIS database serves as an asset management system, cataloguing the components of the water network and aiding in day to day operations. It will also be used as the platform for a future hydraulic model which will highlight inefficiencies in the system and become an invaluable tool for strategic planning and rational decision-making.
Challenges in developing a solution were:
- Information: Most system information existed only as operator knowledge. Available existing information pertaining to the water system infrastructure was very limited in content and was not current.
- Infrastructure: No suitable Global Positioning System (GPS) base stations were available for public use
- Technology: The Water Services Department was eager to obtain the physical tools and knowledge the GPS and GIS technology, including the proper use of latest hardware and software that are used through the world today.
- Budget: The original scope and budget only accounted for partial GPS capture of water system assets, whereas the intent was to capture the entire Island’s assets.
The Interdisciplinary Approach
Chester Engineers (Chester) was to initiate a progressive work plan that allowed for a synergetic collaboration of St. Kitts WSD Staff to build an accurate and comprehensive GIS network that characterized the water distribution system in St. Kitts, while meeting strict budget and scheduling goals. Most importantly the WSD was to be left with the appropriate technology, equipment and skills necessary for continued GIS administration.
First, Chester Engineers installed a permanent and continuously operating GPS base station as survey control; in addition to installing several personal computers and a wireless LAN in WSD’s office. Chester then teamed with the operators of each water system district to locate and survey over 3,200 water features. WSD staff were exposed to GPS survey and GIS data compilation on a daily basis. The project concluded with a three day GIS training workshop attended by the staff of WSD and several other interested agencies.
The Sustainable Result
One of the primary objectives established for the project was to satisfactorily transfer the technical capacities to WSD Staff required to complete the GPS survey and expand the GIS. Having WSD continue the GPS survey and populate the GIS geodatabase gave WSD an opportunity to become familiar with the process while Chester could actively offer guidance and perform quality assurance (QA) to the geodatabase. WSD took advantage of this opportunity by surveying and integrating the remaining 15% of their water system into their GIS.
The WSD was pleased with Chester’s approach, and continues to use its GIS as an easily accessible asset management system. The next steps for the WSD are to utilize GIS as a comprehensive Water Resource Management tool to facilitate their upcoming Master Plan. Recently, WSD and Chester have co-presented the project at the Carribean Water and Wastewater Association’s 2010 conference in Grenada.