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gvSIG Fonsagua, GIS for water designs

TRANSLATION NOTES: Please read some comments at the end of this post.

This is a valuable tool for projects aimed at water and sanitation in the within the framework of cooperation agencies. Generically Epanet has been operating successfully, but with limitations in its adaptation to changes.

After searching reasons why gvSIG and Cooperation became hide without any advice (*), I have taken the time to review this effort I think it is free software best contributions to institutionalism and socioeconomic development.

The context

gvSIG Fonsagua arises in the Galician cooperation projects’ framework which has worked in different Central American and African countries. But it was in southern Honduras where this development was incubated and got involved with CartoLab and ‘Ingenieria sin Fronteras’, I remembered when it talked about perks of using NavTable’s extension in gvSIG 1.10.

Experience seems to have been very good. Surely is result of different efforts, and after being in a context that was trying to make tangles combining ArcView (perhaps pirated), Excel, Access and paper formats with ballots collection in field.


While this is the context of two municipalities in southern Honduras, situation is similar in many parts of Latin America. So we can mention scattered data, nonstandard analysis, exclusion of socio-economic aspect, constraints in automated tools, illegal use of proprietary software, duplication of efforts, anyway.

The solution

As design’s result, it’s buit a tool for gvSIG 1.1.2, which runs on the desktop version and also on the portable. It works in a logical way, solving alphanumeric and cartographic data collection cycle, also system design and reporting.


At field level, supports data capture in waypoints form using conventional GPS. This in case you get coordinates points of capacity, sources, distribution lines, tanks, populations.

Then, the forms can be customized for data entry, allowing validation rules that do not require much work to implement. These work on NavTable’s extension through quite practical tabs. As an example in this project were used two cards, one with socioeconomic information of beneficiary populations and other where are collected technical data related to sources and existing infrastructures, design parameters and consumption that will be considered in the analysis. clip_image003

Once data is entered, we can make tentative designs that are built on map. There are complete CAD / GIS tools of gvSIG’s potential but Fonsagua included additional tools for common routines in water networks design, such as indicating when a point is at the beginning, when two networks are joining, also topological validation and routines to maintain consistency. In addition can also integrate influence areas, selecting communities and beneficiaries to prioritize based on cost / benefit / impact.


Then, in networks based on gravity case, you can run analysis based on parameters and design conditions. System displays a table where different stages can be seen so that we can play as our old HP calculators did and when there was none of them, we must roam and roam, until we reduced losses or cooked data. Segment can be changed as pipe diameter, elevation and material type to ensure speed and losses are within established parameters. This functionality is very interesting, as red colors alert if something is wrong and in case of integrate or eliminate a community we only have to run the calculation again.

Methodology is based on that used by ‘Ingeniería Sin Fronteras’, although there are no plans to go further.

Other design elements, such as supply tanks and pumping systems can also be integrated. It’s only needed indicate parameters related to conduction line and storage and you can calculate horsepower amount required by the pump. Simply exquisite!


And then, you can generate reports to support technical sheets or communicate results. Information is stored in a SQLite database and shape files.

It is definitely a great tool for water systems design, integrating mapping information.

We can not ignore that is freely available, as it works with GPL license. Its code is available if adjust for similar projects is required.

As an example I leave a sample video, although in Fonsagua page there are more videos, more about the project and an example with data.

Remaining challenges

Among gvSIG Fonsagua challenges there is strong dissemination tool between the various cooperation programs that work similar theme. Only in Honduras, North and West AECI offices have specific lines for water projects with Spain’s public funds that are coordinated through Technical Cooperation Office. It would be a great opportunity if they can integrate this development as a tool for planning and its use in technical units of municipalities and communities. It would also be interesting a light version for follow-up by water boards that ultimately are left with sustainability. Such efforts could ensure this effort’s continuity in these countries of crazy government changes where there is a no an implemented civilian career and to ensure cooperative efforts alignment.

It is clear that ‘Ingeniería sin Fronteras’ will operate effort in other countries, but there are also other donors working on water issue, like ‘Cuerpo de Paz’, whose priority for currently funds running in Honduras is in drinkable water systems design. Most donors are focused on almost the same cycle, so surely we will think on ways to spread the tool in other cooperation.

Moving to more recent gvSIG versions is another challenge, but is subject to various aspects, including, apparent uncertainty of what will be gvSIG stable version in 347.5 days and if it should be available in portable version. We assume this issue will be easily solved after iCarto becomes a company in full rights member of gvSIG Organization, an achievement that seems significant to us in strengthening the industrial fabric quality. With this we assume that could go beyond hydro-sanitary issue onto hydrologic field which is a niche with great potential.

And finally, the challenge of influencing public policy, which is more complicated but can be of great value if experience and processes are systematized, and is provided as a tool- misgivings’ free for institutional visibility-, to support framework laws and water sector services deconcentration in tropical countries.


(*) De la noche a la mañana: This idiom is used when something is done so quickly and without any advice so it must be considered suspicious of some fault.

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