Case Study: El Toro Water District improves its wastewater management and water infrastructure asset management using Nobel System’s GeoViewer™ Mobile
The El Toro Water District went digital several years ago to manage its potable water and wastewater assets and infrastructure. However, its operations were not completely paperless, especially in the field.
While the district implemented a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) for the central home office, it did not have the capability for real-time synchronization of data between field work and desktop. Field staff had to return to the home office to upload data by hand.
El Toro turned to Nobel Systems for its GIS Cloud solutions.
“It’s like going from 1990 to 2020, like night and day.” —Mike Miazga, IT Manager
El Toro Water District’s Infrastructure and Services
The El Toro Water District (ETWD) provides recycled water, wastewater, and water services to more than 50,000 customers covering 5,430 acres in southern Orange County, California. Cities who receive services from the district include Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, and Mission Viejo.
The water district’s environmental and economic asset management practices are geared toward providing customers with adequate, reliable, and safe water resources and wastewater service.
ETWD’s drinking water utility operations and maintenance system include:
- 9,562 service connections
- 12 pressure zones
- 6 reservoirs with a combined capacity of 136.5 million gallons
- 8 booster stations27 pressure reducing stations
- 170 miles of distribution and transmission pipelines
- 5,600 isolation valves
- 1,878 fire hydrants
- 1,950 cross connection devices
The El Toro Water District also maintains the 275 million gallon water storage facility, El Toro Reservoir, which the district built.
The district’s wastewater treatment facilities include:
- A wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 6 MGD
- 119 miles of 4 inch to 24-inch sewer collection pipelines
- 11 sewer pumping facilities
- 2 effluent pumping stations that can be achieved the secondary effluent to the ocean
- A state certified water quality analysis laboratory
- 3,200 utility holes
- 2.5 mg of effluent storage
- Its industrial pretreatment program
ETWD became a water-recycling pioneer in the early 1960s when it built a water recycling treatment plant in Laguna Woods. The plant included a small laboratory to analyze wastewater operations.
The plant processed 1.5 million gallons of treated wastewater per day. In 1998, the water recycling plant was reconstructed, which included a new, sophisticated lab that analyzed drinking water and wastewater. It now treats 6 millions gallons of water per day. It has since been expanded to include treatment and delivery of recycled water for irrigation purposes.
At the same time, ETWD added 100,000 feet of recycled water pipeline beneath the streets and roadways in parts of Laguna Woods and Laguna Hills. The system is separate from the water district’s drinking water distribution system.
El Toro Water District’s Asset Management Challenges
El Toro Water District converted to a digitized asset management plan system several years ago. However, the district needed a mobile worker order computerized maintenance management system.
Staff was using two other CMMS systems, but they did not provide an overall integrated GIS-based solution. Asset management and workflow could not be consolidated to provide seamless data collection, analyzation and reporting across the board. The district also needed billing integration.
The district also found that cell service using prior CMMS solutions encountered dead service spots, which impacted workflow.
“Synchronization workflows would not work in real time,” said Mike Miazga, El Toro’s IT Manager. “We would do work in the field, upload information, but it was not a live connection.”
Miazga explained the district’s field workers would have to go back to the office to synchronize data. Also, field and office staff could not create customized forms.
“It was limited in what you could do,” he said.
Other problems existed including issues integrating with other apps such as valve turning and billing.
How Nobel Systems Provided a Solution
While the previous CMMS systems El Toro used “had pros and cons, we decided to replace both with GeoViewer™,” Miazga said.
Nobel System’s GeoViewer™ allows multiple users to access, view, and collect data simultaneously. Field staff can view, analyze, and collect data online or offline without worrying about syncing procedures.
Other benefits of GeoViewer Mobile include:
- A decrease in task redundancy
- Information is kept current
- Enhanced data usability and accessibility for fieldwork
- Ability to access critical information in the field online or offline
- Omits paper-based workflows, saving time, money and reducing the impact on the environment
- GeoViewer enabled El Toro staff to record maintenance history, and [provided] searchable customer information while in the field.
“It gave us the ability to go paperless in the field,” Miazga said.
In addition to GeoViewer™, ETWD also uses Nobel Systems Inventory, Round Sheets, and Billing Integration services.
“Nobel does a good job with billing integration, and it is up and running already,” Miazga said.
Nobel was in the process of setting up its Work Order and Service Order applications for the district at the time of this interview with Miazga.
He noted that ETWD’s field crew were happy with Nobel’s GIS applications. “It is easy to use the Google type GUI (graphical user interface),” he said.
“The field guys love the Mapviewer,” Miazga added. “It’s like going from 1990 to 2020, like night and day.”
He noted the fast performance of the GeoViewer™ and MapViewer applications. The quality of the Bluetooth connection to valve turning also impressed ETWD staff. “[It] can control locks with an iPad through GeoViewer™,” Miazga said. The district’s prior CMMS service was connected to a handheld device via a cable.
The most significant difference, he said, is that data from the GeoViewer™ Mobile “goes straight to the cloud. There is no need to synchronize the work; supervisors can see where they’re at.”
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Another important aspect about working with GeoViewer™ Mobile, Miazga said, is it works during disconnected mode. In case there’s an emergency with no cellphone service, staff still has access to all as-built, easement, and infrastructure data in the iPad or iPhone.
“It’s a big reason why we went with GeoViewer™,” he said.
Nobel continues to customize its GIS-IoT Cloud applications to suit El Toro’s needs. The district can quickly organize work orders, retrieve statistics, view heat maps, and gain organizational intelligence.
The district also can access business intelligence with a click and retrieve critical data, such as how many meters to replace or how many leaks exist.
“They are meeting those challenges,” Miazga said.
More information about GeoViewer Mobile and Nobel Systems’ GIS Cloud Solutions can be found online at Nobel-Systems.com.