Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EPA Develops a Wireless Tool to Get Water Quality Data

EPA’s Water Data Project has recently unveiled a new tool to easily access data collected pursuant to the Clean Water Act about water quality in most lakes, rivers and streams anywhere in the US.

The EPA Environment Justice in Action blog has a posting about the new tool How's My Waterway

While the database has been around a while, the new tool enables everyone to quickly and easily access the data to see the condition of their local waters in plain language.

To use the tool, go to How's My Waterway? and enter your location or allow the system to determine your location. I found that the Use My Location button took too long to load on my office computer, so I clicked on Choose a Location button and was taken to a page where I entered my zip code.

The only confusing part about the tool is that the button to actually take you to the database to see the list and maps of waterways is not nearly as prominent as the three ancillary buttons (About How’s My Waterway, Related Links and Help). 

To actually see the reports generated from the database you click on a little arrow that is not highlighted.  EPA should fix this small design problem to make clicking to the database as prominent as the other, less important buttons.  But this is a small issue. 

The reports generated from the data in map or list format load quickly. The list of waterways – at least based on a check of my neighborhood – seems complete.

This tool empowers anyone to wirelessly check on local waters anywhere in the nation quickly and easily. Think about using your smart phone and during a hike checking on the water quality of a lake or stream from the water’s edge.

This is what e-government should be all about.

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