What’s Your Name?

I must be having dreams about K-Tel’s Superhits of the 70’s since my last couple of post titles have been been Kansas and BTO songs, and now this one is from Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Most people know that regional geography plays an important role in determining whether one calls their carbonated corn syrup beverage of choice a soda, pop, sodapop or Coke (even when its a Pepsi). These same regional distinctions exist across the U.S. when it comes to naming waterbodies. Creek and River are ubiquitous but check out where brooks, runs, washes, and branches are found.

Mapping Terms for Streams (Derek Watkins)

Mapping Terms for Streams (Derek Watkins)

If you want to find out the name of the arroyo/kill/swamp/slough by you there are lots of ways, but EPA has a pretty easy online application that can help. It is called My Waters Mapper.  This application has alot of functionality, and it really makes it easy to find a waterbody’s name.  You can enter an address and then zoom to the area you are interested in.  Next simply click on the “Other EPA Water Data” tab towards the bottom right of the screen and check the box for “Rivers and Streams” and waters will magically appear as blue squiggles on the map.  Click on your particular blue squiggle of interest and a box will pop up with the waterbody’s name.  There are an awful lot of NAs…but before you consider naming that creek after Uncle Bill you will have to check with the fine folks at the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. I live not too far from an “Old Maids Creek”.  What colorfully named creeks do you reside near?

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.

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