By MARK LAW
WINTERSVILLE - The county's water and sewer department is going from the stone age to the modern age using GPS technology to map water and sewer lines instead of relying up maps that may be more than 80 years old.
MAPPING THE LINES — The Jefferson County Water and Sewer Department is using GPS technology to map the location of water and sewer lines in the county. The county has had to rely on maps, some of which are more than 80 years old, and notebooks containing valve information. Working on the project are, from left, Joe Adamovich, water and sewer department; Shannan Gosbin, department director; David Capers of the Rural Community Assistance Program; and John Harris, water and sewer department. - Mark Law
The county received a grant several years ago through the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program and technical training help from the Operator Training Committee of Ohio Inc. to map the location of water and sewer lines throughout the county.
The county has taken over village water systems over the years and were provided old maps of the water systems. The locations of water valves were included in spiral notebooks that former water workers had sketched. Much of the information on water line and valve locations in older water system was passed down verbally from generation to generation of water workers.
The same is true with the newer part of the county's system, some of which was installed 40 years ago.
The GPS mapping eventually will be placed on the county's GIS program and available to the public. The mapping will include several layers for such information as individual home taps, valves and water lines, said Mike Eroshevich, county water and sewer department operations supervisor.
"There is no limit as to the information that can be included," he said.
The information can include the size of the water lines and valves, he said. In the event of a water break, county workers can know beforehand what supplies are needed, limiting the inconvenience to customers, said Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director.
The county is seeing firsthand the need for accurate mapping of water lines.
Construction crews installing the sewer system in Pottery Addition hit and broke a water line in February that wasn't shown on maps.
John Harris of the county water and sewer department said notes can be added to the online maps showing when a water valve or line was repaired or replaced. County crews also can take a picture of the repair so it can be added to the system, he said. He said a dot on the map will show where a customer water meter is located and whether it is inside or outside a home.
Gosbin said a lot of the information about the county's water system is located in the heads of county workers or on maps that are falling apart, and she noted the map of the Amsterdam system is held together with clear tape.
Eroshevich said the information inside workers' heads will be lost when they retire.
The county has entered an agreement with Operator Training Committee of Ohio to use interns to help with the mapping. Gosbin said the organization has an office located at Eastern Gateway Community College, and she said the interns need a specific number of hours of training to be certified in GPS mapping. The agreement is a win-win situation for the county and the interns, she said.
The county water and sewer department is currently mapping water lines, valves, hydrants and meters in Overlook Hills, the county's industrial park and Amsterdam and Bergholz. The sewer lines and manhole covers are being mapped in Area M outside Wintersville and feeding into the county's main sewer treatment plant at Barber's Hollow, Gosbin said.
Joe Adamovich of the county water and sewer department said locating manholes for the sewer system has become difficult over the years, with homeowners covering them and even constructing buildings over the manhole covers. The manholes need to be located in order for the county to clean the pipes.
"There are interesting ways people have hidden the manhole covers," Adamovich said.
He and David Capers of RCAP recently found a sewer line break off Bantam Ridge Court while mapping the system. The ground had shifted on a hillside, breaking the line, he said. County crews had to dig an access road back to the break site to make repairs, he said.
Adamovich and Capers have had to rely upon homeowners to locate some of the hidden manhole covers.
The county will map the Crestview-Belvedere and Pottery Addition sewer systems once completed. New easement agreements don't allow homeowners to construct buildings over manhole covers and sewer lines.
It has been difficult to schedule county workers to go out and map the water and sewer lines with GPS units because of everyday work requirements, Gosbin said. Eroshevich said crews have been able to do about two days of mapping a week.
Gosbin said it will take years to complete the various layers on the GIS mapping. She said there is so much to mark on the water side, with lines, valves, hydrants, home meters, master meters to communities, booster stations and regulators.
The public will benefit from the mapping because the exact location of water and sewer department lines, manhole covers and other items will be seen on the county's GIS system.
"They can't see that now," Gosbin said.
She hopes water and sewer department workers will have computers in service trucks that will help in finding the exact location of lines, similar to other utilities such as the gas company.
Capers said the GPS mapping can be accurate down to less than an inch using satellites and cell phone towers.
There are 100 miles of county sewer lines servicing 2,200 customers. There are more than 400 miles of water lines, 1,500 hydrants, 16 water towers and booster stations, regulators and master meter servicing 7,300 customers.