Geographical Information System

Conduct an Internet search for an example of a GIS water resources application that resulted from or is currently used in the United States to address an issue resulting from regulatory compliance.
To: (Recipient of the memo)
From: (Writer’s name)
Date: Feb 10th, 2018
Subject: GIS Application
The purpose of this memo is to provide information about the GIS and its application in water resource management occurring in the USA in order to address the issue resulting from regulatory compliance. 

Geographical Information System

The GIS or Geographical Information System is a technological tool that helps to collect geographic data, uses it to plan and implement the various developmental activities. It helps to visualize spatial data, analyze and interpret it in order to understand the patterns as well as the relationship between datasets. Visualizing and analyzing data helps us to understand what belongs to where by establishing the relationship between unrelated data. The GIS can empower organizations and individuals to understand spatial patterns as well as relationships. Through GIS, a digital map can be created which is much more informative and valuable than the printed map on paper. This digital version of the map can be collated with other datasets for interpreting and analyzing information through a graphical presentation. The GIS synthesizes large amounts of different information in datasets thus combining different layers of information to manage and apply the data for useful purposes. 

Application of GIS

The GIS find its application in many areas. Such applications include socioeconomic, environment modeling, topographical mapping, and education. GIS can be applied to answer location-based questions such as what is located where or how to find the particular features. GIS can be used to find that how much is the forest area, habitat loss, urban sprawl, etc. on the land use map. One can combine elevation data, land use data, river data and other information to show information about the landscape of a particular area. From the map, one can tell which the best place to build a house, which has the river view or where are high lands located. GIS helps to find the new information.
Apart from such useful applications GIS is also an effective tool for finding solutions to problematic areas of water resources. Experts use GIS to collate various data and information for useful applications such as managing water resources on a local, regional level and assessing water quality of a region.

GIS water resource application in the USA

Sewer systems of many old cities of the world including the USA are in critical stages of deterioration due to lack of maintenance and aging. Such deteriorated sewer infrastructure is leading to frequent sewer overflows. In the USA, many cities are facing regulatory compliance for such sewer overflows. In the light of regulatory compliance, the government agencies are required to develop and implement sewer overflow control plans in order to carry out mapping, inspection, and monitoring of rehabilitation plans. For regulatory compliance, the government agencies are collecting, collating massive data, information on the condition of the sewer system, and related inventories in cities. However, the challenge lies in the cost-effective management of this massive amount of data and monitoring the existing aging sewer system infrastructure.
Fortunately, Geographic Information System (GIS) comes to rescue which is capable of managing, interpret & analyze huge datasets. Integration of field inspection data with GIS enables decision support system for the development of sewer rehabilitation plan. This helps in planning the rehabilitation required to control the sewer overflows.
There are two critical steps in using GIS for regulatory compliance: (i) creating GIS maps of the sewer system and (ii) implementing a GIS-based inspection and maintenance program.
Currently, in the USA a GIS-based inspection and maintenance of sewer system are done by using commercial GIS software that links the sewer inspection, defect information contained in a database or spreadsheet to corresponding map features. Such a system provides the Consent Order communities with GIS maps of deteriorated sewer pipe network and sewer repair works (pipelining, bursting, replacement, manhole repair, and replacement, etc.). The system then generates a series of reports contains the details of damage, recommended action plan, and estimation of the repair cost of damaged infrastructure. Finally, the GIS maps and rehabilitation recommendation reports can be combined to generate what a project manager ultimately needs - bid documents for the repair work.
For example, The City of Hampton, Virginia which is a home for 0.15 million people has a sewer system infrastructure with 12,000 manholes and valves. The City carried out a survey to find out locations of approx 8,000 manholes situated in various parts through GPS. The GIS-based software used in the city performs infrastructure assessment of manholes and sewer pipelines, repair, rehabilitation works through the work order management system. It also has an interface for the CCTV inspection of sewers. It is used to synchronize data from various sources for the sewer infrastructure database management. This provides a GIS map containing comprehensive information on inspection, repair, and rehabilitation. Maintenance history and sewer system profile plots of specific areas are also available in this application.

Application’s strength and weakness

The strength of the GIS-based application for inspection and maintenance of sewer infrastructure lies in the fact that it allows combining sewer system defects and rehabilitation data into a single database mapping. Such a single database can be used to track and report inspection, maintenance and rehabilitation progress, generate budgetary pricing for rehabilitation and repair works, generate bid documents for repair and rehabilitation work, generate and update maps and reports to comply regulatory requirements. However, the weakness of the application lies in the fact that this technology is quite expensive and incurs hefty investment in its establishment. There is also a possibility of error creeping in the dataset which might lead to costly mistake designing using GIS utility lines.


The application of GIS in managing sewer infrastructure system of the US city is fascinating which gives the fact that it integrates the information from many sources to create a useful database in real time. It can be used by the government agencies for inspection and repair of sewer overflows. The beauty of this technology is attributed to the fact that despite the huge set of database management,  it involves in a meaningful way to produce reports and useful information for meeting the regulatory compliance. 

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Burrough, P. A & McDonnell, R. A. 1998, Principles of geographical information systems, Oxford University Press, UK.
Goodchild, M.F., Longley, P.A., Maguire, D. J. & Rhind, D.W 2001, Geographic information systems and science, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. , England.
Shamsi, U.M. 2009. GIS Applications for regulatory compliance. Journal of Water Management Modeling, R235-04. doi: 10.14796/JWMM.R235-04.
ArcNews 2001. GIS Goes with the Flow. ArcNews, Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 2001, ESRI, 34-35.

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