Arc User, The Magazine for Esri Software Users Agency Delivers Groundwater Management Tools 

by Daniel Cozad
Project Manager for Planning IS/GIS
Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority

Packaging these tools as loadable extensions with a common interface increases the power of ArcView GIS to simplify complex and repetitive tasks.

SAWPA and the SAGIS 2 Project
SAWPA and its member agencies are charged with planning, management, and improvement of the Santa Ana River watershed. The agency, formed in 1972, has five member agencies. SAWPA's planning department has a solid history of groundwater data management success. SAWPA developed an ArcInfo application called Santa Ana GIS (SAGIS) in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. This application uses the Santa Ana Basin Relational Information Network Application (SABRINA), an Oracle database, developed for management of groundwater data by SAWPA.

SAWPA's newest project, called SAGIS 2, will create water management tools for use by SAWPA, its member agencies, and others managing groundwater. SAGIS 2 will utilize the existing available databases and provide tools utilizing ArcView GIS, ArcView Spatial Analyst, ArcView Dialog Designer, and ArcView 3D Analyst.

These tools will simplify the connection between well location information and detailed groundwater data, allowing point and click availability of analysis and reporting tools by users who are not trained to use ArcInfo. Packaging these tools as loadable extensions with a common interface increases the power of ArcView GIS to simplify complex and repetitive tasks.

SAWPA SAGIS 2 project flowchart
Figure 1
(click on graphic for larger flowchart)





screen shot illustrating groundwater management tools interface
Groundwater management tools interface.







flow chart--click to see enlargement
Figure 2
(click on graphic for large flowchart)

The tools give experienced ArcView GIS users or Avenue programmers useful documented utilities they can customize for their own organizations. The project will build these tools grouped by task and in phases over approximately one year. SAWPA will make the tools available to member agencies and stakeholders on a continuing basis.

New Tools Needed
In discussions with users of SAWPA's data, the project's designers found many agencies did not have full-time GIS or ArcInfo operators. Smaller agencies and departments had the same data management tasks and planning requirements as larger agencies, but water resources engineers and others had little if any GIS support for their activities. SAGIS 2 tools would allow engineers and planning staff easy access to water data using a simplified interface that focused on the types of analysis most often used. The project flowchart in Figure 1 on page 24 shows the planning and production steps and data integration requirements for the tools.

Project Scope, Management, and Funding
Project management activities for the development of software applications are frequently overlooked. The Project Management Institute's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge indicates that inadequate project scoping, planning, and management is a major cause of project delay or failure.

Determining Project Scope
The scope of the SAGIS 2 project was drafted initially on assessed needs of SAWPA and potential project stakeholders. Staff and management discussed needs assessment and project scope. This discussion gave both groups information on the project's value and allowed them to respond. A brief memorandum outlining the initial project plan was issued as a result of this meeting.

Project funding comes from SAWPA's member agencies so the next step was to discuss the project with these agencies. Member agencies and stakeholders provided excellent feedback on the draft. The scope was refined to better serve their current and future needs. A stakeholders' meeting was held to discuss the concepts and provide a prioritized list of tools.

Project Scheduling
An important part of project management is scheduling. An initial schedule was developed for discussion and presentation. Software development projects have the reputation of finishing late and over budget. A project schedule is a living document intended to forecast the completion of tasks based on the original baseline schedule and changes based on scope and project efficiency. This project schedule is updated monthly during the duration of the project to account for project progress and any changes to delivery of tools.

Because this project is resource limited, the schedule must take into account existing projects, the support of our member agencies, and staff availability. Resource-limited scheduling differs from deliverable deadline scheduling because the budget remains constant. With a constant budget there are two variables: time and staff. When scheduling for resource-limited projects, the completion date is determined by considering staff availability and task effort.

In contrast to resource-limited project scheduling, deadline-driven project scheduling requires managers to add staff as needed to accommodate the deadlines. Commercial software developers and consultants frequently use this type of scheduling.

As part of the planning phase, "make or buy" determinations should be made. The "make or buy" determination is a careful analysis of the organization's ability to accomplish all needed tasks to complete the project. SAWPA has determined that most tools will be developed in-house and that outside consultants will probably be used for development of the database connectivity portion of the tool, described later.

Member agencies provide most of the project funding as part of their continued commitment to properly manage groundwater data in the watershed. Funding discussions with stakeholders who are not represented by one of SAWPA's member agencies or are outside the watershed have been initiated. Additional funding or rescheduling of other staff activities may be required to accelerate completion of project tasks according to schedule.

Why Extensions to ArcView GIS?
The project team discussed various programs and graphical user interfaces for the project. ArcView GIS was chosen because of its ease of use and ability to be customized through Avenue. Additionally, ArcView GIS builds on the coverages and experience gained in the original SAGIS, and ArcView Spatial Analyst and ArcView 3D Analyst extensions allow ArcView GIS to accomplish the required analyses.

Stakeholders include member agencies that are familiar with GIS and water districts and departments who do not have any GIS capabilities. By utilizing ArcView GIS and the SAGIS 2 tool set, both groups receive maximum benefit. Users with sophisticated GIS personnel and skills will be able to accomplish routine tasks with greater speed and consistency. Users with little GIS experience will be able to quickly perform analysis and produce maps and documents with minimal training. Additionally, as the skills of these new users grow, they will have coverages, data, and all the power of ArcView GIS to create their own analyses and applications.

Extensions can be loaded into any ArcView GIS project making all the scripts and special interfaces available to the user without additional loading or complications. In addition, the extension will have a main control panel providing easy linkage to all features of the tools, as shown in Figure 2. Extensions can be unloaded when no longer needed, freeing up memory.

Groundwater Data Management
Managing groundwater data is a complex task. These data, collected from a variety of sources, must be accurate. The sheer volume of well and groundwater data makes the task formidable. SAWPA maintains positional and analytical data on over 10,000 wells in the watershed. Some of these wells have hundreds of samples and thousands of analytical details.

SAWPA has located the wells in the basin based on a number of methods. The California State Well Number contains approximate positional information, and many wells are located on watermaster maps and district maps. SAWPA and its member agencies are also locating wells using GPS technology.

Technical Challenges and Solutions
Integrating these tools with many different databases and file formats presents the most significant challenge. To accommodate similar data known by different names and in different formats, the tools will use a data abstraction or initialization interface layer. This layer will customize the tools to the database or databases of an organization. SAWPA will likely use consultants to build the interface that will integrate these different methods of access and ensure universal operability after installation.

SAGIS 2: Current Status and Plans
SAWPA has completed the stakeholder needs assessment, scoping, and initial scheduling. We are engaged in building our first few tools and exporting them as extensions as press time nears. The proof of concept of new tools phase will be completed in the next few months, and coding and testing of individual tools will begin in May 1998. The first full release of the tool set is scheduled for November 1998.

For more information on the availability of the water management extensions, contact Daniel Cozad at 909-785-5411 or by E-mail at

To learn more about project management, visit the Project Management Institute's Web site at

About the Author
Daniel Cozad has been managing environmental and data projects for about ten years. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of New Mexico. Cozad, who previously managed projects for International Technology, has been with SAWPA for about a year. He is the past president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Project Management Institute.

SAGIS 2 Groundwater Management Tools

These extensions, built using Avenue, simplify and expand the groundwater analysis and mapping capabilities.

General Tools and Data
The general tools will include a utility to identify the projection of your theme in California. This allows the theme's projection to be changed to fit existing data. Standard legends, layouts, templates, and water symbols will improve and standardize water-related maps and simplify map generation. Sample data will accompany the extensions for initial work and as examples.

Water Level Tools
Water Level Tools show water depth as contours or color-coded points. Historical water depth can be shown to calculate water gain or loss. It also charts level changes by year, season, or period.

Water Quality Tools
These tools identify wells exceeding basin objectives, maximum contaminant limits, or a user-entered level for contaminants or water quality parameters. After selecting a map, the user can view data as concentration contours, shaded bands, or color-coded points. These tools also chart changes in concentration of contaminants or water quality parameters over time in maps and tables.

Data Management Tools
With the Data Management Tools, users can select wells by area or other information and the import or export of data via SQL or ODBC. Local copies of data can be edited or new data imported for mapping or use with other tools. Specialized links to photo, log, or table data on well data are supported. Tools to update and manage data are included. Database access through a universal initialization integration or abstraction layer provides customization for individual databases while maintaining code consistency. Location of wells by name, state well number, alias, or other methods is also provided.

Water Production Tools
These tools integrate the specific needs of watermasters with the tool set. The tools will allow analysis of production information by basin, area, or summary areas with comparisons to historical data and legal requirements. Well access and contact information as well as data export and reporting functionality are included.

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