Global Positioning System satellites will be used to digitally map Alabama's municipal and rural public water systems, providing a grid-like view of water lines that can aid water systems during shortages, help statewide water resource planning, and support industrial recruitment.
Governor Bob Riley made the announcement today and said the mapping project will be funded with a combination of federal, state and local resources.
"This project is a substantial undertaking, but one that is truly worth the effort," said Riley. "This map will be a valuable tool for communities across the state. It will help with economic development, water sharing during times of emergency, and even with improving fire safety."
The mapping system will enable water systems to plan development and better serve customers by being able to quickly locate water lines and other features. Fire departments also can use the map to locate existing hydrants and determine the best sites for future hydrants to improve fire safety and help reduce home insurance rates.
The statewide map can also help determine the best connection routes for sharing water among systems during times of crisis, and the data can be used to make key decisions to protect and restore water supplies threatened by natural disasters such as hurricanes and droughts.
The statewide mapping project is being coordinated by the Office of Water Resources (OWR), a division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Much of the field work will be conducted over the next three years by regional planning commissions with guidance and technical expertise from OWR and assistance from individual water systems.
A successful pilot project was completed last fall in Bibb, Hale and Pickens counties. OWR will receive additional data as it is collected and will create the statewide digital map.