Improving Asset Management for a Utility District

Client: Snoqualmie Pass Utility District

Location: King and Kittitas Counties, Washington

With the recent departure of several long-time staff combined with an inefficient asset management system based on institutional knowledge and paper records, SPUD managers needed a new way to track their water and sewer assets.

Snoqualmie Pass Utility District (SPUD) manages water and sewer utilities for the mountainous Snoqualmie Pass area, a popular outdoor recreation destination for the Seattle area.

With no existing SPUD GIS or workable asset management system in place, MFA’s GIS and data analytics team was tasked with building a way to geographically track SPUD’s assets from scratch. To do that, we first had to capture highly accurate location points for their water and sewer assets. Accuracy of location was especially important to SPUD, as utility assets are often completely buried by the area’s heavy snowfall and ice in the winter. SPUD’s utility managers required highly accurate data to know exactly where to access assets that may not be visible, depending on the time of year.

Before heading out into the field to collect data, the project team completed extensive historical research and data preparation to inform our field collection. SPUD and MFA collaborated to develop data collection routing and identify priority asset areas to help us stay organized and efficient in the field. SPUD and MFA also developed schemas for attribution of collected points, adhering to ESRI’s Local Government Information Model (LGIM). LGIM allows for the standardization of local government data, so now when SPUD works with other governments or contractors, their data will be in a familiar, globally compatible format.

With initial project planning and research complete, two GIS technicians headed to the field, using the latest GPS technology to capture asset points down to 3″ accuracy. We used ArcGIS Online and Trimble Collector software hosted on iPads for basemaps, planning, and verification and to upload data at the end of each day to show to the client. We mapped SPUD’s entire utility system in just three days.

Post-processing of the data collected in the field included:

  • Differentially correcting the data for the highest possible level of accuracy
  • Transferring GPS points and relevant attributes to the LGIM Water Utility Network schemas
  • Connecting points, including flow direction, to create water and sewer lines
  • Performing geometry checks on data
  • Developing unique IDs for all features

With post-processing complete, we created an ArcGIS Online Web mapping system so that SPUD can easily view, manage, and add to their new GIS system.

This work was completed as part of the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) GIS Consortium, an AWC program that helps Washington cities and non-city entities utilize GIS. Learn more about the GIS Consortium here.