Randy Roberson, Garrett Goldman and David Lower talk about ArcGIS on KRIM Community Spotlight
KRIM Community Spotlight: Aired Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Host, Randy Roberson with guests, Garrett Goldman and David Lower of Green Valley Water, discuss ArcGIS, the World’s Leading Geographic Information System Mapping Software.
Green Valley Water is a proud sponsor of KRIM
KRIM’s Community Spotlight, hosted by Randy Roberson, offers listeners insight into local people, businesses, organizations, and what is happening in the Town of Payson and surrounding areas. Tune in to KRIM’s Community Spotlight on weekdays at 10:00 am or watch it on the KRIM-FM Facebook Page.
Interested in a Public Tour of Green Valley Water’s Facility?
Read the Transcript
Randy Roberson (00:00):
This morning on KRIM’s Community Spotlight, we are going to be talking about Green Valley Water. We’ve got a lot of good things to talk about this morning, and I’m excited about some of the details that we were just going over before the show, with me in the studio, Garrett Goldman from Green Valley Water, along with David Lower. David is the GIS analyst, and that’s a lot of what we will be talking about today. First of all, thanks to both of you for coming down and being with us.
Garrett Goldman (00:25):
Thanks for having us.
Randy Roberson (00:26):
One of the things that I’ve just never really thought much about before talking to you guys is the existing sewer infrastructure around Payson. How many miles of pipe roughly are we talking about?
Garrett Goldman (00:41):
We’re approaching 200 miles.
Randy Roberson (00:43):
Two hundred miles of pipe, just in Payson.
Garrett Goldman (00:46):
Yep. In the ground. And that’s a combination of gravity sewer, low-pressure sewer, force mains, and reclaimed water lines.
Randy Roberson (00:53):
Wow. That’s a bunch. And of course, keeping track of where everything is underground in the system, because you have a lot of different kinds of assets underground, right?
Garrett Goldman (01:04):
Yeah. Well, pretty much the whole collection system is underground. So it’s out of sight, out of mind. You don’t even realize it’s there.
Randy Roberson (01:12):
Until there’s a problem, and then it’s in everybody’s mind.
Garrett Goldman (01:15):
Yeah. That’s true.
Randy Roberson (01:16):
So now, you had put in a GIS system here just a few years ago. How long ago was this?
Garrett Goldman (01:23):
Three years ago.
Randy Roberson (01:24):
And GIS for people that aren’t aware of what that stands for?
Garrett Goldman (01:27):
Geographical Information Systems. So it’s mapping on steroids, smart mapping.
Randy Roberson (01:35):
One of the things that I noticed you were showing me, you all have even apps right on your phone that’ll show you where different things are, including all of the manholes around town. I never even stopped to think about it, I guess, David, but there’s a bunch of manholes all over Payson for 200 miles of line.
David Lower (01:56):
There are, and there are, even manholes that we’ve discovered didn’t even exist before. Our guys have located them while they’re looking for other stuff. And so that’s another significant part about this GIS system, and this inspection system is, like Garrett said, finding out what we have, some of it we don’t even know.
Randy Roberson (02:17):
Well, the initial original sewer lines in Payson here, how far back does that date?
David Lower (02:25):
Those plans are from the early seventies, right? The original townsite.
Garrett Goldman (02:28):
- And so, from about 1971 to 1975, the original collection system was put in.
Randy Roberson (02:37):
And now this GIS system and just one of the things that I thought was pretty interesting, Garrett was just showing me the app on his phone, you got the entire town mapped with all of the manhole covers, but then you can zoom in, hit the manhole cover. Then you have a bunch of other information that comes up too. What all are you keeping track of with this system?
David Lower (03:01):
A lot of it is we’re talking about not only location but the condition of the manhole. And so we have our field guys use iPads, tablets, and it’s a little bit easier to see than their phone, but they’re able to take pictures of the manhole and within the manhole too. And so we can, inside the office without even having to go out on the field, we can see the condition of the inside of the manhole and decide whether we need to do something to fix something or if everything is good. But we’re keeping track of the pipes that go in and out of it.
Many times, on our old cartoon maps drawn by hand, we didn’t even know the directions of the pipes that come in, whether there were three instead of two. So we keep track of the lines, the sizes of the pipes. And we’re going to be keeping track of the age when it was installed and things like that. And so that will also be able to give us an idea of when we can anticipate needing to work on something as it wears out.
Randy Roberson (04:14):
Right. I know one of the other assets that you have is these lift stations. Because, of course, it would be wonderful if we lived in an ideal setting where everything just rolled downhill, but with all the hills around here, that creates some challenges for getting everything to move to the end of the pipe.
Garrett Goldman (04:31):
Yes, it does. Everything does move or roll downhill, but unfortunately, downhill is not always to the treatment plant. So we have 14 lift stations, and you’ll see these as you’re out driving around. We have signage on each of them, and they’re at the low points. And so we’re pumping the sewage flow back up over the hill to where it can flow gravity to our treatment plan.
Randy Roberson (04:57):
Are these like a hydraulic pump or like a screw pump?
Garrett Goldman (05:00):
They’re a centrifugal pump, so much like a well pump, a little bit different configuration than that with electric motors on them.
Randy Roberson (05:08):
Interesting. And now the GIS system itself, how long has this been around in Payson?
Garrett Goldman (05:18):
Well, GIS for us, it’s been about three years. GIS itself has been around. It started in the seventies or eighties, I believe.
David Lower (05:27):
Yes. And in Payson, law enforcement has been using it for a while as far as [crosstalk 00:05:36]
Garrett Goldman (05:36):
Randy Roberson (05:38):
David Lower (05:39):
As far as utilities, we’re just now getting into that.
Randy Roberson (05:42):
And as it pertains to the sewer system here, what kinds of other information are going into this system, or are you tracking with this?
Garrett Goldman (05:57):
We’re tracking inspections. We’re also tracking wherever we have customer concerns. So we can see it on a map if we have a cluster of customer concerns happening. We know that something is going wrong in that area, we can put extra effort into those areas. It goes down to communication with the front office staff so that our field crews are. They’re filling up their portion of their customer concerns, specifically on the iPad. Immediately that’s uploaded, and the office can see that also. So if they’re talking to a customer, they can say, well, our crew is out there. This is what they saw, here are the pictures of it. So it increases that interdepartmental efficiencies and communication within the operation.
Randy Roberson (06:44):
And so how long did it take to implement this system, because obviously, there’s got to be a heck of a lot of data input to get it up and usable. When did it start? How long did it take to get it to where it’s at today?
Garrett Goldman (06:56):
Well, we started in, well, three years ago just getting into it. It took about six months before we had a workable map that we could deploy out in the field. And then, as far as updating that map, data will continue in the foreseeable future, but it will never be completely done. [crosstalk 00:07:17].
Randy Roberson (07:17):
Make sure [crosstalk 00:07:18].
Garrett Goldman (07:18):
You’re always going to be finding new stuff. And then once we do go through and we specked all of our manholes and our pipes, it’s time to start back over.
Randy Roberson (07:26):
You have to do that routinely, right?
Garrett Goldman (07:29):
Yes. The stuff wears out. You’ll find new defects, and we’re trying to be proactive in managing the collection system.
Randy Roberson (07:38):
Now, is this something that all communities have?
Garrett Goldman (07:41):
No. No, you’d be surprised, but very few have it. So here we are in Payson, and we’re getting national attention.
Randy Roberson (07:52):
That’s where I wanted to go next because of the treatment plant itself, which I think is a fascinating place. I know you’ve been providing tours for anyone that’s interested out there. And it is a pretty fascinating thing to see how it all works. But that’s a state-of-the-art plant that put Payson on the map as far as that was something that many other communities did not have.
Garrett Goldman (08:17):
Our current plant was upgraded in 1983 to the current technologies that we use. We were only the second plant in the United States that used that.
Randy Roberson (08:17):
Second in the whole US. Wow.
Garrett Goldman (08:35):
Yes. And obviously, there’s been a lot of upgrades since 1983, but we’re still on that cutting edge with what we do.
Randy Roberson (08:44):
It amazed me. I know last time that we had you in here, Garrett, and I don’t recall the exact number, but I know I was astounded from the time sewage enters the plant until the reusable fluent leaves, and it goes into Green Valley Lake, about how long is that?
Garrett Goldman (09:01):
It’s about 24 hours.
Randy Roberson (09:05):
So many jokes come up. We’d only get the bread out of here that quickly. But that’s pretty amazing. And again, this is still fairly state-of-the-art as far as there are still not that many communities that are doing this type of technology.
Garrett Goldman (09:22):
Well, the actual treatment technology, pretty much every treatment plant in the United States uses some form of it. One unique thing that we do here is we do biological phosphorus removal. So we’re removing phosphorus from the flow. So when it goes back up to Green Valley Lake, we don’t have algae problems, or we can at least minimize the algae problems. We do that with no chemicals. Now, that is very unique at least in the United States.
Randy Roberson (09:53):
So, a biological process?
Garrett Goldman (09:55):
It’s completely biological. We’re using bacteria to do the entire treatment process. And that includes not just cleaning the water, but we’re taking nitrogen out of the water and we’re taking phosphorus out of the water.
Randy Roberson (10:10):
Just on a side note, there’s a lot of different aspects to this in that, in this day and age where many of us are taking various medications and stuff and or maybe we get done taking medications, we just dump what’s leftover down the toilet or whatever. Those different chemicals like that have got to be a challenge for y’all.
Garrett Goldman (10:29):
Yes, they’re increasing in challenges. The EPA is actually looking at those because they are pass-throughs through our treatment process right now, and we can anticipate in the years to come that there are actually going to be limits put on pharmaceuticals.
Randy Roberson (10:49):
I bet. That makes sense. When it comes to the GIS system, just getting all of the data input, obviously, as we were talking, has to be a challenge. And Chris, what percentage of the plant, the overall system in Payson, is currently mapped with this?
David Lower (11:14):
By the looks of our map, it’s approaching the halfway mark.
Randy Roberson (11:18):
So still a ways to go.
David Lower (11:19):
Randy Roberson (11:22):
When do you anticipate having 100% mapped?
David Lower (11:25):
I don’t know if we’ve ever actually set a date to that. Right now, our GIS system is being transformed to being housed in our office. Now it’s going to be housed in the cloud, and this is going to provide a lot of advantages for us. One is our infrastructure doesn’t allow us to upload information quickly from our offices. And now, it’ll be out on the internet, but our guys access information through cell phone signal. So we’ve eliminated that slow link out of our office. So we’re anticipating things like that are going to speed things up. And once we get this move all completed, and we’ve had some new hires too, and I think we’re getting more help now. I don’t know. If it’s been two years for half, I would say in another year.
Garrett Goldman (12:21):
Another year to two years before we get through it.
Randy Roberson (12:23):
And then there’s still just going to be routine informational updates and stuff like that, so this is going to be quite a tool to use. I would assume that your crews that are out taking care of any problems that occur in the system, this has got to be a great tool for them to be able to have right along with them, so they know what they’re getting into before they get there.
David Lower (12:46):
Correct. Like Garrett pointed out, even when they before they leave the plant, they know what pieces and parts to take with them, because they look at the map, they can see what sizes they’re working with, they can see what materials they’re working with and you’re right. It does really help. Rather than making multiple trips, it’s only making one trip to Home Depot for your home improvement.
Randy Roberson (13:12):
Which is a really good thing to do. When it comes to these lift stations that we were talking about earlier, to keep everything moving up and over hills and down to the plant, how many of those are there in Payson?
Garrett Goldman (13:27):
We have 14 of them in our system.
Randy Roberson (13:29):
- I know coming up here at the end of this week, you’re going to be cutting the ribbon on a new one. That’s actually what, just replacing an older one, right?
Garrett Goldman (13:38):
Yes. The Chaparral Pines lift station number three, which is the main lift station that lifts the sewage from that whole East Side Basin we call it, which is basically the Tyler Parkway corridor. We just completed that project and we’re going to be basically dedicating it on Friday.
Randy Roberson (13:58):
That’s a lot of lift when you look at, I mean, you’re going downhill quite a ways before you get to Chap Pines and that type of thing. To come up over that hill so it can come down to the plant here on the West side of Payson, this is not a small pump.
Garrett Goldman (14:13):
No. These are 70 horsepower motors. They pump about 11 to 1,200 gallons a minute. There’s a lot of flow.
Randy Roberson (14:22):
And so now, as far as, you mentioned that it looks like it’s going to be about another year before all the data gets completely input. Chris, are there certain areas of town that haven’t been done yet? Or is it just getting mapped as people are working on different projects?
David Lower (14:46):
It does seem to be certain areas. The older parts of town are hard to get to. One thing we’ve found is that the sewer in Easements has not been good, especially if it’s been there for a while. People tend to build over it and it makes it very difficult for the guys to get in there and examine, or sometimes even find the manholes.
Randy Roberson (15:07):
Well, I know with the water department here, we’ve had stories in the past of a long time ago, there was very few. And in fact, really mainly only just one person that knew where some of the water lines ran and stuff like that. Was that true with the sewer system as well?
David Lower (15:29):
Yeah. We have the guy that we go to.
Garrett Goldman (15:30):
We have Bob. If you want to know what’s going on in the system and when it was last worked on, we ask Bob. That is one of the reasons that we’re getting into the GIS system too is so that we’re not relying on just one person. That we can get all that information out of Bob’s head. He’s been there for 36 or 37 years.
Randy Roberson (15:52):
You must be talking about Bob DePugh.
Garrett Goldman (15:54):
We are. For those of you who know him, Bob’s a great guy.
David Lower (15:58):
Yeah, he is.
Garrett Goldman (15:58):
But to be able to make this information available to all of our crews, it’s really important.
Randy Roberson (16:05):
And of course, Payson is when I first moved here about four years ago, we had 5,000 people living here. Now we have 16,000. There’s been a lot of changes, and I would assume that that also requires a lot more demand on all the underground infrastructure here. So this has been an ongoing challenge for a long time.
Garrett Goldman (16:25):
Yeah, it has. And it’s going to continue. As new developments happen, we’re continually seeing our system expand to serve those new developments. And so being able to catalog it, you can keep track of it so that we know that we can maintain it into the future. It’s really important.
Randy Roberson (16:42):
The underground sewer infrastructure, you mentioned something about the size of the lines and stuff like that. So there’s different sized pipes in different areas?
Garrett Goldman (16:53):
So most residential connections will be four inch pipes. That’s what comes out of your house. And then once it gets into the street, it goes anywhere from six inches up to 36 inches in diameter.
Randy Roberson (17:05):
Wow. That’s quite a vast difference. So the main lines now, and I’m asking this out of complete ignorance, but are the main lines all about the same size?
Garrett Goldman (17:19):
No. They go from six inches to 36 inches, just depending on where you are.
Randy Roberson (17:23):
Even the six-inch lines are really a mainline?
Garrett Goldman (17:25):
Yeah, they are. We have a lot of six-inch line in the street that we have to maintain. And as you go down the collection system and you get closer to the plant, the lines get bigger.
Randy Roberson (17:37):
So we’re talking bottom line today with the folks from the land at the end of the pipe. And I know when it comes to everything that has gone on over the years, I’m amazed that Payson has really been on the map as far as the treatment plant, and we’ve talked about that before. The plant itself, when that was first installed, and we were talking just before the show, that was one of how many in the US?
Garrett Goldman (18:05):
Randy Roberson (18:05):
Two, in the entire United States. But now with this GIS mapping tool and everything, is that something else that’s new to the sewer companies and that kind of thing?
David Lower (18:22):
As it turns out, for wastewater it is. They have been very popular with electric and communications, and then water seems to be the next most popular. Apparently, there are not very many wastewater systems that use it. So we are on the cutting edge of that too.
Garrett Goldman (18:47):
In fact, we’re going to be going to a national conference here at the end of October and doing a presentation on how we’re implementing GIS into our workflows in our operation. From a small town, you don’t have to be in a big metropolitan area to do this. And the benefits that your customers will realize from this on being able to actually maintain what you have, they are just enormous.
Randy Roberson (19:15):
Makes sense. Now, one of the other things, and I know we’re running low on time here, but one of the other things we wanted to talk about a little bit, is that Green Valley Water is upgrading the online payment system.
Garrett Goldman (19:26):
Randy Roberson (19:27):
What’s going on with that?
Garrett Goldman (19:28):
Well, we are upgrading our billing software, and as a portion of that, we are going to be upgrading our online portal, our customer portal, so that our customers have a better experience. You’ll be able to make changes to your profile when you’re on your corridor, or your signed into it, you’ll be able to see your full billing history. It’s just going to be a more interactive, more information for our customers to be able to maintain their accounts.
Randy Roberson (19:56):
You’re really keeping state-of-the-art on every aspect of Green Valley Water these days.
Garrett Goldman (20:00):
We are trying to.
Randy Roberson (20:01):
Outstanding. Now, one of the things that I mentioned early on in this hour is that Green Valley Water offers tours out there at the plant, and you can get details on their new website at Greenvalleywater.org. But I have to say, I was really very intrigued when I came out, and again, Garrett, you gave Chris and I a tour of the plant here. I’d been out there, oh, golly, quite a number of years ago, but it’s fascinating to just see how that whole plant works and how you can in 24 hours, go from raw sewage to nice clean water that’s heading off to Green Valley Lake. That’s a pretty astounding bunch of chemistry going on there.
Garrett Goldman (20:44):
Indeed. It is an amazing process. And I invite everybody, come on out, you can sign up on our website. If the dates on the website don’t work, call the office, we will make accommodations.
Randy Roberson (20:57):
And that also is at Greenvalleywater.org?
Garrett Goldman (20:58):
Randy Roberson (20:58):
I think it’s fascinating. The one thing that I think I appreciated significantly there was that the old sludge beds aren’t being used anymore. And I know I go out to that road out towards the Mazatzal on a routine basis, and that used to be a great exercise in holding your breath for a little bit. But you’re not really using the sludge beds anymore.
Garrett Goldman (21:26):
No. We’ve upgraded our technology, so the sludge that we do take out of the plant now, we actually process it, dry it in-house, and then we take it up to the waste management. So we don’t have the aromatic experience along Doll Baby Ranch Road anymore.
Randy Roberson (21:44):
Good stuff. It is amazing technology. I think many of us can think, well, Payson here, we’re just down the road from Podunk or something like that. But I mean, that’s a state-of-the-art technology that almost all other communities don’t have. So it’s really something to be proud of.
Garrett Goldman (22:02):
We are very proud of it, and we look forward to being able to show it off to people.
Randy Roberson (22:06):
And again, you can find out more by going online to Greenvalleywater.org. And if you have questions, is there a phone number that people can call and talk to somebody out there?
Garrett Goldman (22:14):
Yeah. You can get ahold of our main office. It’s 474-5257.
Randy Roberson (22:20):
Outstanding. Okay. We’ve been talking again with Chris and Garrett this morning. Really? Well, there we go. Went to the wrong page suddenly. The bottom line here is that actually, we’re talking with David Lower and Garrett Goldman from Green Valley Water. I’m paging through my phone as we speak. The technology in Payson is astounding. I always was amazed at the plant, but now the pipe infrastructure and everything and everything you have going there, there’s a whole bunch of technology there too, that’s all state-of-the-art and people take for granted, I guess, because you don’t see it, it’s underground. But you guys really address the bottom line in a very good way.
Garrett Goldman (23:05):
Well, thank you.
Randy Roberson (23:06):
You bet. Keep up the good work, by the way. We have to get you back to more of your favorite music. Got some tunes coming up from Bryan Adams, The Commodores, Prince, The Beatles and more, but first, a quick look at Rim Country weather.
David Lower (23:30):
I’ve been called worse.
Randy Roberson (23:32):
Well, did we cover everything that you wanted?
Garrett Goldman (23:37):
You did. That was good.
Randy Roberson (23:37):
Garrett Goldman (23:38):
That was great.
Randy Roberson (23:38):
And I will make sure I’ll just stick around in town. Normally, when I get off the air here, I head back down to Tonto Basin, but I’ll stick around and grab myself some lunch, and then head over there on Friday and look forward to seeing that pump [crosstalk 00:23:52].
Garrett Goldman (23:52):
Look forward to seeing you there. I’ll give you a tour and show you what it’s all about.
Randy Roberson (23:52):
Cool. Sounds good.
Garrett Goldman (23:52):
Randy Roberson (23:55):
Garrett Goldman (23:56):
Talk about state-of-the-art.
Randy Roberson (23:58):
Good to see you again. What was that?
Garrett Goldman (24:00):
Talk about state-of-the-art.
Randy Roberson (24:01):
Really? And that was one of the things too, when you mentioned that from where it’s at, and then coming all the way up over that hill. I mean, I knew it had to be a pretty significant pump, but when you start talking, what, horsepower. What’s that you were talking about?
Garrett Goldman (24:01):
70 horsepower motors.
Randy Roberson (24:20):
I mean, that’s a lot more than your typical lawnmower, that’s for sure.
Garrett Goldman (24:21):
Yes. Oh yes.
Randy Roberson (24:22):
Garrett Goldman (24:24):
It has to go a long way.
Randy Roberson (24:25):
I hear you. Well, anything else we can do to help, just holler.
Garrett Goldman (24:29):
Okay. We appreciate it. You guys have a good day.
Randy Roberson (24:32):
[crosstalk 00:24:32] I’ll make sure we [crosstalk 00:24:35].
Garrett Goldman (24:32):
Randy Roberson (24:37):
[crosstalk 00:24:37]. Is it okay to bring a video camera?
Garrett Goldman (24:37):
Randy Roberson (24:48):
Okay. Cool. [crosstalk 00:24:48]. All right. Thanks, David.
Garrett Goldman (24:48):
Have a good day.
Randy Roberson (24:48):
You too. Take it easy. (singing).
Speaker 4 (29:14):
I just want you to watch me at [inaudible 00:29:25] Friday, the last few Fridays.
Speaker 5 (29:27):
It just shuts off.
Speaker 4 (29:28):
Yeah. And then about halfway through the first half-hour.
Speaker 5 (29:31):
I wonder now, that one time you did remember, let me get out of here.
Speaker 4 (29:44):