Assessment

The State of Our Rivers and Streams

By Tom Damm

A recent EPA survey shows that more than half of the nation’s rivers and stream miles are in poor condition for aquatic life.

Cover of Draft National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009 Report

Cover of Draft National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009 Report

The survey – the 2008-2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment –indicates that among other concerns, our waterways don’t have enough vegetation along stream banks and have too much nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and mercury.

That’s a concern for many reasons.  Our rivers and streams serve as sources of drinking water, provide recreational opportunities, support fish and wildlife, and play a critical role in our economy.

There’s a way to find out if your local waters are impaired by pollutants.

EPA’s new How’s My Waterway? app can show the condition of your local stream, creek or river – whether you’re standing on the water’s edge with a mobile device or sitting at home with a computer.  I tried it this week and found that my local creek is impacted by arsenic, E coli, lead, phosphorus and low dissolved oxygen levels.

The health of our rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, including stream miles that only flow seasonally or after rain.

These streams feed downstream waters, trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution and provide fish and wildlife habitat.

Want to do something to help improve water quality conditions?  You can control polluted runoff from your property, adopt your watershed, do volunteer water monitoring, and more.  For information, click here.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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How’s the Bay Doin’?

By Tom Damm

When the late New York City Mayor Ed Koch wanted to get a sense for, “How’m I doin’?” he’d ask people on the street.

Bay Barometer Cover ImageThe Chesapeake Bay Program takes a more scientific approach when it considers the state of the Bay and its watershed.

It crunches all sorts of statistics and produces an annual update on health and restoration efforts called Bay Barometer.  The latest one is now available.

So how’s the ecosystem doin’?

The science-based snapshot shows that while the Bay is impaired, signs of resilience abound.

A number of indicators of watershed health, like water clarity and dissolved oxygen levels, point to a stressed ecosystem.  But other factors, such as a smaller than normal summertime dead zone and an increase in juvenile crabs entering the fishery, provide a brighter picture.

Recent restoration work and pollution cuts also offer signs of progress for the nation’s largest estuary.

Learn more about Bay Barometer or read the full report.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

What’s App? Two New Water Apps!

By Christina Catanese

Two new water apps have recently app-eared on the scene that will help make the health of local waterways more app-arent to citizens everywhere.  It seems app-ropriate that both have been launched around the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act – yes, we’re still celebrating clean water!

Check out the How's My Waterway App from your smartphone, tablet, or PC!App-ease your app-etite for data by checking out EPA’s new How’s My Waterway App.  This app is a new tool that helps users find information on the condition of their local waters quickly using a smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer.  This tool app-roximates your current location with GPS technology (or you can search for the zip code or city of your choice) and shows the assessment status and reported condition of the nearest streams.  The app is designed to make water quality data available, and its meaning app-arent, to everyone, with plain-English terms and explanations.  How’s My Waterway is app-licable anywhere, from the App-alachian Mountains to App-leton, CA.  More background on the tool is available here.

What waterway is the app-le of your eye?  What did you find when you looked up your waterway on this app?  Was the water quality worth app-lause, or was it more app-alling?

The other new water app, RiverView, gives you a more active role in app-raising the health of your waterway. Developed in partnership with EPA by San Diego-based nonprofit Below the Surface, this app allows anyone to post and view photos of rivers and comment on them using social media, all shown on a map of rivers around the country.  This fall, representatives from EPA hit the water (along with federal agencies, paddling and surfing groups, businesses and non-governmental organizations) to launch the app by paddling the entire length of the Anacostia River through Maryland and Washington D.C.  With this app, everyone can app-ly themselves to documenting visual measurements of the recreational use of their waters.  How app-ealing!

I app-solutely hope you’ll make an app-ointment to show your app-reciation for your local waters and check these apps out!   Don’t be app-rehensive!

And, do you app-rove of my use app puns in this blog entry?  It just seemed app-ropos.

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.