GvSIG Fonsagua, GIS for water designs

It is a valuable tool for projects oriented to the water and sanitation sector within the framework of cooperation organizations. In a generic way, it has been working with good results Epanet, Although with limitations in its process of adaptation to the changes.

After looking for reasons why GvSIG and Cooperation se Invisible Of overnight, I have taken the time to review this effort that seems to me of the best contributions of free software to institutional and socioeconomic development.

The context

gvSIG Fonsagua arises within the framework of Galician Cooperation projects that has worked in different countries of Central America and Africa. But it is in southern Honduras where this development is incubated, in which CartoLab and Ingeniería Sin Fronteras are involved, I remember him when he talked about the dangers of using the NavTable extension in gvSIG 1.10.

The experience seems to have been very good. Surely the result of different efforts and after being in a context that was trying to make a mess by combining ArcView (Pirated maybe), Excel, Access and paper formats with field pickup ballots.

Gvsig fonsagua

Although this is the context of two municipalities in southern Honduras, the situation is similar in many places in Latin America. Scattered data, non-standardized analysis, exclusion of the socioeconomic aspect, limitations in automated tools, illegal use of proprietary software, duplication of effort, in short.


As a result of the design, a tool is built on gvSIG 1.1.2, which runs on the desktop version or also On the portable. This works in a logical way, solving the cycle of collecting alphanumeric, cartographic data, system design and generation of reports.


At the field level, it supports data capture with conventional gps in the form of waypoints. This in case coordinates of gauging points, sources, distribution lines, tanks, towns, etc. are obtained.

Gvsig fonsagua The forms can then be customized for inputting information, allowing for validation rules that don't require a lot of time to implement. These work on top of the NavTable extension by means of pretty handy tabs. As an example in this project, two files were used, one with socioeconomic information on the beneficiary populations and another where technical data related to existing sources and infrastructures, design parameters and consumption that will be considered in the analysis are collected.

Once data has been entered, tentative designs can be made that are built on the map. There is all the potential of gvSIG CAD / GIS tools but Fonsagua included additional tools to make common routines in the design of water networks, such as indicating when a point is the starting point, when two networks are joined, as well as topological validation and routines to maintain consistency. . The areas of influence can also be integrated, selecting the communities and people benefited to prioritize based on cost / benefit / impact relationships.

Gvsig fonsagua

Then, in the case of gravity-based networks, the analysis can be run from the design parameters and conditions. The system displays a table where you can see the different sections to play what our old HP calculators used to do and in the absence of one, tour, tour, until we reduced losses or We cooked the data. It can be changed by segment such as pipe diameter, elevation, and material type to ensure velocity and losses are within established parameters. This functionality is very interesting, because the red colors alert you if something is wrong and in case of integrating or eliminating a community you just have to run the calculation again.

The methodology is based on the one used by Ingeniería Sin Fronteras, although there are plans to go beyond.

Other elements can also be integrated into the design, such as supply tanks or pumping systems. By entering parameters related to the pipeline and storage, you can calculate the amount of horsepower required by the pump.  Simply exquisite!

Gvsig fonsagua

And then you can generate reports to support data sheets or communicate results. The information is stored in a SQLite database and shape files.

In short, it is a great tool for the design of drinking water systems, with integration to cartographic information.

We cannot ignore that it is freely available, as it works under the GPL license. Its code is available in case you want to readjust for similar projects.

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


Challenges pending

Among the strong challenges of gvSIG Fonsagua is the dissemination of the tool among the different cooperation programs that work on a similar topic. Only in Honduras, AECID offices in the North and West have specific lines for water projects with public funds from Spain that are coordinated through the Technical Cooperation Office. It would be a great opportunity if they manage to integrate this development as a tool for planning and its use in Technical Units of the mancomunidades and municipalities. A light version would also be interesting for monitoring by the water boards, which are the ones who ultimately remain with sustainability. This type of effort could guarantee the continuity of this effort in the crazy changes of government of these countries where there is no civil race implemented and also to ensure the alignment of cooperation efforts.

It is clear that Engineering without Borders will exploit the effort in other countries, but there are also other cooperators working on the issue of Water, such as the Peace Corps, whose priority for the funds currently being executed in Honduras is in the design of drinking water systems. Most cooperators are focused on almost the same cycle, so it will surely be necessary to think of ways to disseminate the tool in other cooperation instances.

Going to gvSIG of more recent versions is another challenge, although it is conditioned to different aspects, among them the -aparente- uncertainty of what will be the stable version of gvSIG in 347.5 days and if it will be available in a portable version. We suppose, this issue will be easily solved after iCarto becomes a fully-fledged company of the gvSIG Organization, an achievement that seems significant to us in strengthening the quality industrial fabric. With this we assume that it could go beyond the hydrosanitary issue towards the hydrological 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, processes and systematization are provided as a tool -Free from misgivings about institutional visibility- to support the Framework Laws and deconcentration of water sector services in tropical countries.

See more of GvSIG Fonsagua

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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  1. Thanks Fran, I will make the correction as soon as I return to civilization.

    A greeting.

  2. From Cartolab and myself as a member of the team that develops gvSIG Fonsagua, we greatly appreciate the analysis you have done of the application. Comments like this help us to keep working trying to do things as well as possible.

    Currently we are in contact with several agencies to finance the development of new features for the application and migrate to the latest version of gvSIG.

    Just a detail to clarify. The application is not designed exactly to make the technical folder of a construction project if not rather to be able to perform the prioritization of possible supply alternatives. This is one of the points that is more difficult to convey. The methodology of the Integral Water Resources Management Plan, which is where the application is framed, has several different phases, and always chooses to first carry out a general plan where several options are contemplated and later to carry out a construction phase, but there are many people Which prefers to go directly to the construction phase, which from our point of view is not usually the most appropriate.

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