Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tracking Private Water Wells in Austin


Just a quick post to note my most recent Google Fusion Tables visualization, this time showing water wells drilled in parts of Austin served by the local water utility. I helped reporter Dave Harmon with the research behind his story about residents drilling their own private wells, many so they can irrigate their landscaping without worry of the watering restrictions we face during drought years in Austin.

When we started with the analysis, we originally looked at ZIP codes that were mostly in the city boundary, using data from the Texas Water Development Board's Submitted Driller's Reports Database. But as Dave turned the story more about how folks were using these wells to bypass water restrictions, the more it made sense to focus instead on the areas that the Austin Water utility serves. I put in a public information request to the city to get the GIS shapefiles of the water service area, and I was able to us that to search by location for all the wells in just the service area (using Lat/Long from the Driller's Reports).

My basic steps were:

  • Download the Driller's Reports Database (in MS Access).
  • Query that database to get wells within ZIP codes in Austin (or in Travis County)
  • I exported the query and cleaned up the data. I could tell from my early map visualizations that some of the data had incorrect Lat/Longs.
  • I used Esri ArcMap to pull in the wells and plot them. I then layed on the Austin Water district and then searched for all the wells within the district, and then exported that result set.
  • More cleanup and custom columns, and then loaded that list of wells into Fusion Tables.
  • Using shpescape.com, I uploaded Fusion Tables the shapefiles of the Edwards Aquifer (pulled from CAPCOG and then edited) and the Austin Water Utility shapefiles from the city.
  • I used the FusionTablesLayer Wizard with some modifications to layer the three shapefiles on top of each other.

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