(Although this post was originally published on February 3, 12014 the topic remains relevant)
Now There is a Way to Satisfy Your Curiosity
Wondering about the health of your local lake? Is the neighborhood stream polluted? What pollutants were found? What is being done about it?
A nifty new website from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a way for everyone to check on the condition of local streams, lakes, and other waterway anywhere in the United States. Simply click on How’s My Waterway to begin your easy search for reports on waterway in your area.
At this site you can check to find out if there is a water quality assessment of your local stream or lake and if so how are fish and other aquatic life forms doing? Is the public drinking water safe, and are public health and welfare, or recreation affected by local water quality?
Go to MyWaterWay to find information about your local waters. You will be asked to either Use My Location or to Choose a Location. You can choose a location by entering a zip code or a city/state and will be given a list of waterways within five miles of its center.
For example, I choose a location that led me to Lake Wingra’s “Waterbody Report” for 2004, complete with an interactive map, a water body ID number, and a summary of the “Water Quality Assessment Status Reporting for 2004”. Here I learned that Lake Wingra is “impaired” for fish and aquatic life. The source of this information comes from the EPA database of state water quality monitoring reports provided under requirements of the Clean Water Act. “Causes of impairment” and “Probably Sources Contributing to Impairments” are also listed. However, the categories for public drinking water; public health and welfare; and recreation were not assessed in this report.
As would be expected, the EPA MyWaterWay web site, has links to many data bases and information sources such as the Nitrogen and Phosphorous Pollution Data Access Tool, where we learn that nitrogen (not just phosphorous) is a problem for the health streams and lakes, or the EPA Waters Homepage, with links to Education and Training, Grants and Funding, and Laws and Regulations.