Kerala Water Authority’s new GIS-based tool aids project planning

As an IT-based tool, it has ”acceptable accuracy” in the planning stages of a project, saves time and money and requires considerably less human resources than conventional methods

The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has come up with a tool for exploring suitable locations for large facilities such as sewage treatment plants (STP) by using the Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing technologies.

The GIS-based Optimal Sites Selection for a sewage treatment plant is one of seven IT-based solutions of the KWA launched by Minister for Water Resources Roshy Augustine. The tool has been developed as part of the GIS-related initiatives launched by the water utility.

As an IT-based tool, it has ”acceptable accuracy” in the planning stages of a project, saves time and money and requires considerably less human resources than conventional methods, according to the KWA. While it is not meant to entirely replace field inspections and validation, GIS-based site selection can be an effective tool in the planning stages and aids faster decision-making.

In a nutshell, data available on open sources and satellite imagery are used to determine the suitability of a site by gauging the population density of a region and its topographical characteristics such as elevation, slope and distances from waterbodies, roads and buildings. This is applied to the stringent criteria for establishing STPs to determine if the site is suitable or not.

Cheaper method

The KWA’s GIS-based tool uses latest data available on open-source platforms. It was tried out successfully at Elamkulam in Ernakulam district where the State-run water utility has an STP, according to officials.

Conventional methods of site selection involve collection of topographical, environmental, economic and sociopolitical data and its analysis, which can be time-consuming, laborious and expensive. The present innovation incurs just 6% of the time and 4% of the cost when compared to conventional site exploration methods, the KWA said.

”Though field validation is a must, GIS-based STP site selection is an innovative tool in the arsenal of planners for creating better sustainable development solutions,” notes the KWA.

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