New ADWR web app answers an age-old question: Where does my water come from?
It is a technology used to combat elephant poaching in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is transforming and simplifying consumer engagement online in myriad private industries, from banking and insurance to retail and manufacturing.
So, of course software employing geographic information system technology (GIS) would have an application for the citizen-customers of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
We just had to figure out what that application might be. And we did.
Following a conference last year on the use of GIS technology-based software, Water Resources staff from our Community Water Systems division hit on an issue they felt this technology could help resolve:
The Department fields a great many calls from consumers searching for basic information about their water providers.
Who is my water provider? Where can I reach them? What public records does my provider have on file that I can access? Annual reports? System Water Plans? Where can I find all that?
The Water Resources staff weighed whether they could come up with a faster, more efficient means of answering those consumer questions. Something less labor-intensive and time-consuming than thumbing through a lot of computerized and paper files. And, in fact, they could.
Less than a year later, the result of their efforts is the web application accessible on the Department’s Community Water Systems home page that we call, simply, the Community Water Systems Interactive Map.
(A Community Water System is one that serves at least 15 connections used by year-round residents of the area served, or that regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality makes this determination.)
The very simple, straightforward application asks a user to type in basic information, such as address (or parcel number, or some other code that identifies a property’s location).
The web app then instantly brings up a GIS image of the location, as well as the name of the provider, the provider’s contact information, and links to any public records that the provider may have filed.
The web app came online in early January. An Arizona Management System “Success Report” filed about the web app observed:
“ADWR customers can determine their water provider instead of placing a phone call to ADWR. Community water systems, meanwhile, can now view the area they serve, where their wells are located, and view any related imaged records – all in one web application.”
The web app is proving popular not just with consumers.
The Department’s Community Water Systems division has found that is valuable as a tool for providers as much as for consumers. Community water system-providers are using the web app as a handy means of accessing their own annual reports and other online information. As with all data, accessibility is key, and water-system providers are finding the Department’s app provides a simple, direct means of accessing their own data.