by Megan Keegan and Catherine Magliocchetti
In our work, we use geographic information systems (more commonly known as GIS) to create maps that help us make timely decisions and efficiently target resources for protecting the Region’s waterways.
However, GIS technologies can be time-consuming and cumbersome to learn, and for many environmental organizations GIS mapping has become a language all its own. And as with a language, if you don’t use it, you lose it because it’s difficult to remain fluent without using it on a regular basis.
Now there is an alternative that doesn’t require special software or on-going training. EPA’s new tool, the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) harnesses the mapping power of GIS programs in a user-friendly interface, right in your internet browser! DWMAPs equips local watershed groups, water utilities, state and federal regulators, and others with a wider variety of water resource datasets. For a better understanding of drinking water resources, users can easily navigate their way to answering all kinds of questions about public water systems, potential sources of contamination, or how to get involved in local drinking water protection efforts.
EPA will use this tool to better protect sources of drinking water by working with states, basin commissions, and collaborative partnerships, such as the River Alert Information Network (RAIN). The Network has high hopes for use of DWMAPS in the future. RAIN’s program coordinator, Bryce Aaronson, recently told us that “ the ability to shift through the diverse layers detailing watersheds, water sources, and the great litany of possible points of contamination complements the growing early warning spill detection system that RAIN and our water utility partners use to protect the region’s source water.”
Find more information, including a complete user’s guide, on the DWMAPS website. And keep an eye out for instructional videos, webinars, and more from EPA. In the meantime, give DWMAPS a try to learn more about the source of your drinking water and to find water protection groups in your area.
About the authors: Meg Keegan and Cathy Magliocchetti work with diverse drinking water partnerships in the Source Water Protection program. Outside of work, Meg loves to scuba dive tropical locales and Cathy enjoys skiing.