Maps provide a valuable perspective of the lay of the land, the ability to identify local waterways, their length and proximity to urban or agricultural areas, and their connectivity as they wrap around hills or snake through open plains. But there was always something you couldn’t learn about rivers and streams near your community by just looking at a map, at least until now.
On the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act last week, Appalachian Voices was so caught up celebrating with the release of our “Clean Water Act at 40” report and video, we almost missed the release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ingenious, easy-to-use website and mobile app, “How’s My Waterway?” Just enter your town, or let the tool find your location, and you’ll see a map like most others. But in a few clicks, you can find out which of your local waterways are polluted — and for those that are, what’s being done about it.
Once a river or stream is selected, “How’s My Waterway?” provides a rundown on the type of pollution reported for that waterway. Keep clicking and you’ll find a wealth of technical information and reports with descriptions of each type of water pollutant, likely sources and potential health risks. Pretty cool, huh?
So cool, that I’ve been digging into water data that I didn’t even realize was available. After letting the tool find my home in downtown Boone, I zoomed in on the Middle and East forks of the New River where they run through the eastern edge of town. According to the 2010 data used in creating “How’s My Waterway?”, both stretches of water are impaired for aquatic life. Looking at the map, the streams border the Boone Golf Course.Read more