Mapping Tool Scores Sites for Watershed Protection

 

by Tom Damm

Ralph Spagnolo and Ellen Bryson know their way around the state capitals in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region.  The regional Water Protection Division employees have been on the road helping states launch an innovative online mapping tool that prioritizes sites for watershed preservation or restoration.

They will be in Dover, Delaware this week to debut the Watershed Resources Registry for state employees and others.  In past months, they’ve led registry launches in other states in the region, and when Virginia unveils its version of the tool, it will be a clean sweep in the Mid-Atlantic.

What’s all the fuss about?

 Volumes of data and information are entered by federal, state and local agencies and non-profit groups into a user-friendly Geographic Information System (GIS).  The GIS tool scores sites from one to five stars and lets decision-makers zero in on the best areas for protecting and restoring watershed lands and improving stormwater management.

The data fed into the system ranges from soil type, land cover and flood plains to impaired and high-quality streams, protected lands and wetlands inventories.  The tool allows users to identify locations, assess and compare potential projects and their environmental impacts, print site maps for field visits, and share information.  It also helps to streamline the permitting process and provide transparency in site selection.

The registry is especially useful for developers, natural resource and transportation planners and others who are required to avoid impacting natural areas or to provide mitigation for any unavoidable impacts.

In February, an updated registry was made available to the public.  Check it out and see how teams of partners are working to protect watershed lands.

 

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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Surviving the Flood

Looking down the stairs, I can still picture the glistening, glass-like surface of our 1950’s parquet basement floor. Only a slight ripple revealed the thin layer of water lapping on the baseboards. It was an evening of heavy pounding rain from Hurricane Agnes. I was 10 or 11 years old and the first in my family to discover our flooded basement. Armed with towels, buckets, and shop vacs, we fought the rising water. But water has a way of consuming everything in its path. For us, the flood claimed our rugs, furniture, clothes, furnace, and water heater. Many of us have faced similar flooding first-hand, or seen dramatic TV images of flooding, such as cars washed away by rushing water, boats floating down roadways, or rescue teams racing to save citizens from rising waters.

After years of similar floods, our family finally had enough and adopted the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We landscaped the grounds to channel the water away from the house. We installed two sump pumps in the basement to remove the rising water before it reached our basement floor. And it worked. These mitigation steps protected our household, restored our confidence, and became our insurance policy against reoccurring flood damage. Why did we wait so long?

During floods, even when the electricity is out, you can turn on the faucet and flush the toilet. Thankfully water and wastewater utilities are very reliable during disasters, but they are often located near rivers and in low-lying areas that are prone to floods. In the last 5 years, more frequent and larger rainstorms and extreme flooding has severely affected water and wastewater utilities in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Connecticut to name a few. Like us, utilities know they are vulnerable, but it is not easy to take those first ounces of prevention.

EPA’s newly released tool, Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities helps utilities understand their flooding threat and identify practical and cost effective ways to protect themselves by, for example, elevating instrumentation, installing submersible pumps, and installing backup power. With easy to use worksheets, instructional videos, and flood maps, the Guide helps give utilities as well as us, their customers, confidence that we are flood resilient.

See the Guide at water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/emerplan/. See a video on flood resilience at http://youtu.be/r25J-DJH2NQ.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.