Migrating to Apps: Streamlining a Water Level Measurement Program
In 1951, High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) was created to conserve, preserve, protect, and prevent waste of underground water in aquifers within its boundaries. The district serves an area of 11,850 square miles, which includes all or part of 16 counties in the Texas Panhandle. It is headquartered in Lubbock, Texas.
User - High Plains Underground Water Conservation District, Lubbock, Texas.
Challenge - The water conservation district needed to modernize its water level measurement workflow.
Solution - ArcGIS Collector and high accuracy receivers were used to collect water level data and well locations.
Result - HPWD saved hundreds of person-hours and improved its data quality.
HPWD field technicians make depth-to-water level measurements in a network of 1,400 privately owned wells each winter. This data is used to determine the change in water levels as a result of the previous year's pumping.
Historically, observation well information was kept in large notebooks. This information included a map to the well location, photos, historic water level data, and other notes. Each notebook represented half of a county within the district's service area. Because of this, there were 32 individual notebooks. Each notebook had to be manually updated each year.
Numerous challenges resulted from this paper-based system.
First, field technicians had to pick up a notebook for the area of the county they would be working in that day. If that notebook was in use by another employee, then no other work could be done in that portion of the county until the notebook was returned.
Second, water level measurement results were recorded by hand onto data sheets at the well site. These data sheets were given to the staff geologist, who entered the measurements into the office computer system. This process allowed for possible data entry and math errors.
Changes in the water level measurement program workflow and the adoption of new technologies have streamlined the process.
While HPWD office staff were already using ArcGIS Desktop products, field technicians relied on hard copies of field maps, and all field assignments were carried in notebooks. Migrating to the ArcGIS Collector app has transformed this process and eliminated much of the clutter.
HPWD field technicians now use Esri's ArcGIS Collector for most data collection programs. Customized maps are built in the office, then installed on Panasonic tablets, iPhones, and Android devices for use in gathering data in the field and to synchronize results in the database. Technicians use high accuracy receivers to collect location data. The field technician places the SX Blue or Arrow receiver on the wellhead and captures high accuracy GPS readings to document the well site location.
Field technician training was conducted as a group exercise. Everyone used their own device and followed along as test data was entered. Actual training took about an hour and was fairly easy, since Collector is intuitive and user-friendly.
Following the training, field technicians offered suggestions to improve the configuration of the Collector app:
- Set the date automatically when data is collected.
- Change the size of point symbols.
Esri's ArcGIS Collector allows HPWD field technicians to go to any well site, measure the water level, and enter the data. When web access is available, submitting the data then updates the map. If there is no web access, data can still be collected and is submitted once access is available. This has been extremely beneficial, since the program allows the HPWD manager/professional engineer to create contours of the data and identify any reading that appears in error. Office staff consume the field data using the same Collector map that field technicians have deployed. Once identified, the water well measurement can be quickly rechecked and verified.
HPWD estimates that the use of ArcGIS Collector has saved hundreds of hours by eliminating the need to update maps, notebooks, and enter/reenter well data by hand. In addition, data quality has improved, since there are fewer entry errors, less missing data, and a smaller number of conflicts.
These annual water level measurements are presented to the public using a web map at map.hpwd.org. It is the most requested data obtained by HPWD each year.
ArcGIS Collector allows HPWD field technicians to enter water level measurement data and sync to the district database. Because of this, we no longer have to go through the time-consuming process of entering/reentering well data by hand. It also improves our workflow, since all field staff can see which wells have been measured and those that need to be rechecked.