GIS: Castle Rock’s Digital Upgrade Saves Time and Money

A more in-depth look at GIS appeared in Ersi News for Water and Wastewater (Summer 2015). The article, “It’s 10 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Assets Are?” was written by AMERICAN Flow Control Technical and Marketing Manager Derek Scott.

This story also appeared in the November 2014 issue of Rumbles, a joint publication of the Rocky Mountain Section of AWWA and Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association.  

With a population of 55,000, the town of Castle Rock, Colorado, was named to “Money” magazine’s list of 100 Best Places to Live in America. It’s also a town on the cutting edge of managing its water, wastewater and storm water system assets with the help of the Hydrant and Valve Inspector from AMERICAN Flow Control (AFC) and Trimble Navigation.

Castle Rock’s asset management system has been in place for several years, but the recent implementation of the Hydrant and Valve Inspector software system allowed it to go digital, saving time and money, and eliminating human error. The Inspector system maintains a tracking history on fire hydrants and valves, and accesses data on more than 15 data points, including the year the asset was manufactured, model number, nozzle and thread configurations, depth of cover, size of main valve opening, opening data and more. AMERICAN was the first valve and hydrant manufacturer to offer this software system, which uploads and stores each asset in the utility’s existing Geographic Information System (GIS) database.

“The Hydrant and Valve Inspector allowed us to digitize our process, and it was fairly easy to get up and running,” said Castle Rock Utilities Maintenance Supervisor John Chrestensen. “This system provides us with a crumb trail so we can say we were here, here and here in this order. If something doesn’t seem right, we can look at the GIS stamp [when last inspected] and verify we were at this location at this time to ensure everything is working properly.”

“The Hydrant and Valve Inspector allowed us to digitize our process, and it was fairly easy to get up and running. This system provides us with a crumb trail so we can say we were here, here and here in this order.”
John Chrestensen, Castle Rock Utilities Maintenance Supervisor

Castle Rock’s previous hydrant maintenance system required technicians to complete printed checklists with specific hydrant fields. The checklists were then brought back to the utility, where another employee would manually enter the data into the system. Now, once a technician completes the checklist on the handheld device, it goes directly into the utility’s GIS.

The town of Castle Rock has approximately 17,000 service connections and 3,500 fire hydrants, 1,400 of which are Waterous hydrants. The hydrants are evaluated every two years. Technicians can photograph each one using the handheld device and store each photo in the system. Chrestensen said technicians like the handheld devices because they are less cumbersome, easy to use and durable. But technicians aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits; the new system also allows Castle Rock to better serve its customers. If customers call about water pressure in their area, a customer service representative can view the pressure rating in the GIS and respond more quickly to customers’ concerns. Likewise, if customers call about a hydrant, customer service personnel can look in the system and see when it was last inspected and relay this information to the customer.

With the AFC Hydrant and Valve Inspector software system, data points are entered on the handheld device, and uploaded and stored in the utility’s existing GIS. “In Castle Rock, we are committed to incorporating new technology to better serve our customers, from improving our billing processes, to quickly responding to customers’ needs, to gathering data for our asset management program,” said Chrestensen. “This software allowed us to go digital and put all of our inspections on a handheld device. The way we were previously doing things was getting the job done, but it was redundant. Now, work orders are created and technicians can complete inspections more quickly.”

Through American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Action Now Committees, Chrestensen and others are sharing their asset management system knowledge with water systems across the state. From July 2010 to June 2011, they gave presentations to utilities across the state of Colorado. Approximately 500 operators in the AWWA’s Rocky Mountain Section learned about Castle Rock’s startup experience and were provided with examples of maintenance checklists. Chrestensen said it’s important for utilities to have a routine valve maintenance program so they can know all of their valves are operable and accessible; how and where to shut down any section of line; and how a shutdown will impact customers.

“Castle Rock has always been very proactive in regard to asset maintenance,” said Chrestensen. “Through these Action Now Committee presentations, we are able to share our experiences with other industry professionals and learn from each other. We all want to provide the best possible service and ensure our infrastructure will serve our communities for many years.”

For more on the features and benefits of AFC’s GIS Hydrant and Valve Inspector System, visit

AMERICAN Flow Control is a division of AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, founded in 1905 in Birmingham, Alabama. AMERICAN manufactures ductile iron pipe, spiral-welded steel pipe, fire hydrants and valves for the waterworks industry and electric-resistance-welded steel pipe for the oil and natural gas industries. AMERICAN’s diversified product line also includes static castings and fire pumps.