How Our Team in South Carolina is Utilizing Technology & Bringing New Hope to a Local Tribe

July 27, 2018 | Asset Management, Blog, GIS, Tribal

Written by: Nathan Ohle

Every time I visit communities that the RCAP network is assisting, I come away inspired and humbled by the impact our work has on people across the country. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit several communities in South Carolina that our Southeastern RCAP (SERCAP) is working with, and it was immediately clear that our work is making an impact.

While water and wastewater systems are vital to the health and well-being of rural communities, many people do not know the importance of asset management and physically mapping those systems to ensure the community is using its assets effectively. Asset management is a process water and wastewater utilities use to make sure that planned maintenance can be conducted and capital assets (pumps, motors, pipes, etc.) can be repaired, replaced, or upgraded on time and that there is enough money to pay for it. This is one of the most critical areas that RCAP team members aid water and wastewater operators across the country.

Most water operators have a good idea of how the system operates and where each piece of the physical infrastructure lies. However, if something were to happen to that operator, there are many communities that do not have a map of the system that can be accessed by emergency personnel or others to understand how to access and operate the system. Physically mapping a system was once an arduous task, but with new technology and the technical assistance that our Southeastern RCAP provides, communities across South Carolina are now using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to map every part of their water or wastewater system. This is crucial to ensuring that first responders like firefighters can know exactly where hydrants are located, so operators and maintenance workers can locate a main or valve quickly in the case of a leak or an emergency, so road workers can plan for raising manholes as roads are repaved. GIS also ensures the water operator knows where every pipe, valve, and meter is in case they need replacement.