Case Study Of A Southern California Water District

Geospatial Information Integration Solution for a Southern California Water District

A Southern California water district with approximately 50,000 plus residences, many of which are on wells or septic systems. The District has approximately 10,000 water consumers and 8,000 sewer consumers. Managing these assets and the associated documentation has proven to be a challenge for our small organization with a tight budget. We are composed of 30 water and waste-water operations staff. 2 engineering staff, 2 fire staff and 14 admin, Customer service, HR and general office staff. We are small with a tight budget so we need all the help available. We are also lacking clerical, data entry and support staff for operations. But this was not our only struggle, we had some tools to help us along the way with our information and management operations.

Alice Benson, Waste-water Operations Manager (retired)

“USA Imaging Inc. (USAI) has brought us something fresh and in turn has made me passionate towards their efforts surrounding the project. I am the Waste water operations manager at a small California Water District and the project manager of our enterprise GIS project. As of 2009 we have been using the Enterprise Data Window framework at the district for about 3 year now and we are astounded and most importantly happy with the results.”

Here is What the District Was Working With:

"We had GIS software and two document manger applications, one for small document and another for large documents. This configuration functioned less as a fix or solution and more like a band-aid with no path to completion or improvement. Both document management systems were inflexible and either obfuscate the names and locations of the documents so we could only retrieve documents through the vendors software or it was built around dozens of dBase files scattered across the file system with no chance of being maintainable. With the limited input functionality we were always behind, in addition to these facts both document managers had a complex retrieval user interface that wasted time. We dealt with a per-user license that left the program available to only a few staff members. Our operations and engineering asset management software was just as inflexible and again with its per-user license contract use was again very restricted. The mapping was engineering only and had limited input and was always out of date. Mapping data required programs such as ESRI and Crystal Reports along with licenses that created hidden additional costs and again only left access to a few trained staff. We had many problems with our past system that left us thinking about what we want. What would be ideal for us? "

Our Visions for an Enterprise GIS & EDMS:

"We wanted a system, not just a program that is easy to use, maintain and not restricted to what our budget can afford, and we need it to be available to all District staff. We want there to be consistent real time or near real time information that maximizes the use of externally provided data. Of course we want it to save us money, something that can spread cost over time. We want a business driven software, something that can change as our needs change, not a software driven business where we are the one that must be malleable to its restrictions. Then we began to think about how we would approach an attempt at our own ideal. We wanted an in house GIS developer for graphics and database development. Our Technical staff would be experts in their subject matter. The Data owners would be the ones to add and correct the data and we would use External programming support to augment staff efforts to develop document management and work order elements. When we found USA Imaging Inc., we found it accomplished these needs with a few system components that are key."

Our Key Components:

It starts with the Enterprise Data Window, where our searches are made and our information is found. Built into this is the Document Manager fulfilling our indexing needs. The Application manager provides the framework for application development. ETL and Maintenance is a simple method for in-house data movement. And the work order system provides documentation of work performed and analysis tools.

Document Management Issues at a Glance:

1. Restrictive document management programs.

2. Small and large documents are in separate systems.

3. Vendor's obfuscate the document's physical location and file names.

4. Mapping by engineering only, no relationships to documents outside of engineering.

5. Limited input, out of date.

6. Per-user license ( Restricted Viewing).

7. Support Programs (ArcGIS, Documentum, Crystal Reports, RasterX etc.).

8. Information is not shared by all.

9. Silos of information by department and by application.

Operations & Engineering Management at a Glance:

1. No computerized asset management system.

2. Current applications are primarily in-house Excel based solutions.

3. Limited & complex retrieval for maps (Software "out of the box" was not intuitive for the majority of potential end users).

4. Per-user License (Only available to a few).

5. Support Programs (ESRI, Granite XP, IWater, Data Stream).

6. Mapping data between Water, Sewer and Engineering departments were not in sync.

7. Very high document duplication rate between Operations and Engineering. Records were not kept in sync between departments.

8. Business processes were lengthy because multiple disparate applications were required to complete a transaction.

9. Access to engineering documents was through engineering only, (Which lead to item # 7).


Starting from Scratch.

What we found at the water district was very typical of a small agency with limited resources. Doing more with less is not just a slogan for these agencies but it is necessary for them to survive. Keep in mind, even if an agency is relatively small the data maintenance issues are the same with the exception of volume, and in many cases volume can usually be handled by hardware upgrades.


The introduction of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) framework into an organization usually replaces two or more independent business applications. New business applications can be created to add or streamline existing business processes. The primary objectives of this project are to:

• Consolidate multiple EDM and GIS applications with one integrated GIS document management solutions for both large and small documents.

• Integrate or unify the mapping (geospatial) and document data with legacy customer service data.

• Replace all Excel based business applications where appropriate and reduce the need to complete a transaction with multiple applications.

• Convert the paper water and sewer work order processes into a work order application integrated into the data window framework.

• Application must be available for all staff and very easy to use without the burden of a per-user license.

• Application and data updates must be hands free for the end user.

• Provide tools and procedures for the quarterly SanGIS land base update.

Learn how GeoEDMS can impact your business or organization.

Want to know more about document and GIS unification in your organization?

Call me at: (858) 513-6565 or sign up for short demo.

#GeoEDMS #DocumentManagement #WaterDistrict

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