GeoWorld March 2012

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Many Great Minds Are 'In the Sewer' POSITION A BY TODD DANIELSON ccording to Wikipedia, the first covered sewers discovered by archaeologists were in the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization about 4,000 years ago. And ancient Rome's Cloaca Maxima sewage system still is considered a marvel of engineer- ing. Fortunately, these ancient wonders have been improved upon to create the great, yet underappreciated, water and sewer systems that most of us rely on. I'm writing about this "dirty" subject, because this issue of GeoWorld is dedicated to infrastructure, and some of the features in this issue focus on sewers and wastewater systems. It's also comforting to see that some of the brightest and hardest-working people in the world are devoting themselves to such noble projects. Found in These Pages "Geotechnology Changes the Flow of Wastewater Management in America," by Katie Shepherd and Phil Walsack, on page xx, goes into great detail about sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The EPA reports there are between 23,000-75,000 SSOs each year in the United States. The authors sum up the problem best: "Watching human waste flow from a manhole onto the ground for 'everyone to see' puts a utility manager in an uncom- fortable position." They then explain how to avoid such a "sticky situation." Another one of our features, Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / MA R CH 2O12 "Stop-Loss Measures—GIS Supports Montreal's Water and Wastewater Network Intervention Plan," by Cathy Chatfield-Taylor, describes how the city of Montreal used geotechnology to improve its water and wastewater network. Turn to page xx to find out how one of the "most livable cities in the world" was able to integrate 245,000 georeferenced field points and 220,000 photogrammetric points as well as georeference 100,000 paper plans to improve its infrastructure. Geotechnology Is "On It" The two features in the magazine represent the thousands of similar projects and situations elsewhere in the world, as having safe and secure water is quite possibly the most impor- tant service humans can have. It's not a coincidence that the poorest coun- tries, which don't have and can't afford modern water systems, suffer from devastating diseases such as cholera and dysentery, and nations with sound infrastructure don't. Geotechnology in all its forms (e.g., mapping, modeling, imaging, mobile applications, etc.) is playing a crucial role in updating and improving sound water systems, making them more efficient and effective, as well as helping to create new systems in areas that desperately need them. It reminded me of my time spent as a juror for the Bentley "Be Inspired Awards" in 2009. I spent a lot of time poring through applications turned in by various companies and governments worldwide. And although it was some time ago, I remember that many of the best entries came from those dealing with water and sewer systems. GeoWorld ran a cover feature that highlighted a couple of the best projects in our March 2010 issue. "Saving Lives—Pipeline Improvements Bring Clean Water to Impoverished Areas," written by Angus Stocking, described how water-system projects in India and Manila were literally saving lives in those countries. Efforts led by politicians, engi- neers and geotechnologists changed the fortunes of those countries forever, and there's no doubt that others have been doing the same elsewhere. So the next time you fill that glass with clean, refreshing water, or use the restroom, think of the amazing work that went into making that happen. And consider yourself lucky that you live in a place where such things are taken for granted. Also know that geotechnology is a key ingredient to making it all happen.

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