AZTEC — Aztec Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of more high-quality digital aerial photography that city uses to monitor many systems and utilities.

Through an agreement with San Juan County, the city participates in the county's two-year contract with Pictometry, an aerial photography company, to obtain the images.

The price tag for the work is a little more than $15,000, plus an added $3,400 for nine additional sectors — or image tiles — to incorporate water lines in the East Aztec Water service area that the city now owns on county land east of Aztec.

"We use these images as a foundation that we overlay with our GIS (geographic information system), to be able to see more accurately the many utilities — like water, power or sewer lines, meters, valves, road-center lines, light poles, manhole covers or buildings, to name just a few — with the latest resolution quality," said the city's projects manager Ed Kotyk. "With this kind of imagery, we can see with greater precision exactly where and what someone in the field or at a monitor needs."

The city began using GIS in 2000. Before Pictometry's services were available, staff relied on cruder satellite imagery.

In addition to the added coverage, technology advances have led to sharper resolution images taken by plane from 250 feet in the air.


Used by various departments, including public works, electric, parks and recreation and utilities, primarily, the enhanced images are now available at 4-inch resolution per pixel for urban areas, where fine detail is critical, and 9-inch resolution for rural areas.

Kotyk is one of the city's five GIS editors, and he is able to add and update a plethora of needed data to the GIS system to help all city personnel more accurately and efficiently respond to emergency calls or maintain the many systems in the city infrastructure.

"We have over 90 layers of data sets in table format that represent objects in three ways, as two-dimensional polygon shapes, location points or lines on the map," Kotyk said. "Everything from an object's type, measurement, status, last service, elevation and quality, depending on the object, all in one single image."

If Kotyk had his way, he would like to see the city have a complete data set of every element of the city mapped with relevant data within five years. But he admits that would require at least two people working full-time.

"Many city staff people wear many hats, so we have to work on projects here and there. We slowly but surely chip away at it," he said. "But our goal of full-system accuracy with GIS is so that if, say, a transformer went down, we could identify it, shut it off, be able to tell what parts are needed, know precisely where it is and who would be affected. We're aiming for that degree of informed response."

Included with the consent agenda was the approval of funding for Youth Conservation Corps, which will allow the city to hire approximately 20 teens for projects in Riverside Park and two murals along the Animas River this summer. The vote approve the consent agenda was unanimous.

James Fenton can be reached at; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.