Redlands, California — Seeking a cost-effective way to maintain water and sewer line easements, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) has come up with an innovative easement clearing app that uses Esri's ArcGIS Online platform.

"It saves me an incredible amount of time because in the field I can mark access points, attach pics, or mark any other important easement features directly on the app on my phone," said Angel Carter, an engineering assistant coordinating contractor clearing. "It's a real asset to my job."
The app was created by chief construction inspector Matt Smith, GIS analyst David Williams, and content delivery manager Rob Bailey. Their goal: to reduce longstanding delays and heavy expenses in clearing utility easements—strips of land used by CMUD to construct and maintain water and sewer lines.

"This app provides a clear 'road map' of the easements, which will help field operations and cleaning contractors save time and, therefore, money," said Smith. "We can carry out accurate and sensible planning prior to committing crews to the field."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department clears more than 1,000 miles of off-street water and sewer easements at least once every six years. During fiscal year 2013 alone, more than 173 miles of easements were cleared to maintain access to off-street sanitary sewer pipes and to help prevent root intrusions.

For years, easement clearings were scheduled using paper maps. The result: many easements weren't cleared quickly, requiring expensive heavy equipment to remove trees.

With the easement clearing app, planners can easily see where easements are located and their current clearing status. Since the app allows workers in the field to add information on their mobile devices, staff throughout CMUD can prioritize and plan clearing with the most current data available. The information can also be displayed on desktop devices as a sort of dashboard that helps CMUD proactively address clearings before they become problems.

On May 22, the groundbreaking app received a City Manager's Award for Innovation. Presenting the award at the Booth Playhouse in Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte assistant city manager Ann Wall congratulated the easement clearing app team for a project that saves the city time and money.

For more information about ArcGIS Online, visit esri.com/agol.