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Modernizing GIS Systems Utilizing Government Funding Mechanisms

How Magnolia River is Helping Municipalities Leverage Esri Technology to Maintain Compliance and Enhance Asset Management


In March of 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act as part of a COVID 19 relief fund. This provided the TN state government with over 3.5 billion dollars to put towards hard-hit industries and other efforts that serve the community and the environment.

One way that ARP funds may be used is for necessary investments in water infrastructure to specifically address Tennessee’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. And to that point, The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) awarded approximately $1 billion in the form of non-competitive grants to communities for projects.

A large number of utilities took advantage of this funding mechanism to invest in the community via critical improvements to the water and wastewater infrastructure and have now reached the phase of this effort that requires the development and implementation of an Asset Management Plan, or AMP, which is required by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) §603(d)(1)(E) and for compliance with the ARP requirements for reimbursement.

In order to meet this requirement, there are a set of defined criteria that must be met for the AMP to be approved and funds released to utilities. The three items below are examples of some of these criteria that can be accomplished through the implementation of a GIS and accompanying field collection exercise. For utilities that do not have a GIS, the process of fulfilling the final requirements can be a significant resource and time commitment that delays the release of millions of dollars of reimbursement funding.

  • Digital map of greater than 75% of the system or a plan to achieve this in the immediate future

  • Current asset inventory and condition assessment 

  • Operation and maintenance plan and schedule


Our solution consisted of five primary activities: Database Design and Development, Implementation of Esri’s ArcGIS Online, The development of tailored Esri web maps, Geocoding of Customer Meters, and Training.

Activity One: Working in close collaboration with our client, the Town of Livingston, TN, the Magnolia River GIS team designed water and waste-water databases specifically tailored to meet all stipulations laid out in the ARP AMP checklist.

Activity Two: Once the databases had been completed, our team implemented AGOL to support the mapping of water and wastewater assets and data processing activities the client needed to fulfill the requirements laid out in the AMP.

Activity Three: In conjunction with AGOL, our GIS Analyst developed three Esri web maps - view only map for all identified stakeholders, a field collection map, and a map designed specifically for data editing and analysis.

Activity Four: Now that the Town of Livingston had a fully functional GIS, we used available customer meter addresses to populate the meter locations on the map. This was done through a geocoding exercise. The geocoding process placed meter locations in the center of the parcel. These points can then be manually adjusted using Esri’s Field Maps mobile application when the meter readers are on-site.

Activity Five: On-site training on the AGOL platform, as well as field collection best practices, and Esri’s Field Maps mobile application were also conducted to support future field collection exercises. 


On completion of the project, the Town of Livingston now has an affordable cloud-based GIS environment with tailored databases and web maps for their water and waste-water systems. This GIS solution provides them with an easy way to create a digital asset inventory and network map that can be shared across their organization while also empowering mobile workers with a user-friendly app for collecting asset data and feeding that information back to the office in real time. In addition, and most applicable to the stated problem, investing in this effort allows for compliance of not only all three of the above stated ARPA and AMP criteria, but also bolsters future efforts related to asset management, capital planning, inventory and condition assessments, and safety (just to name a few). The return on investment is endless.


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