by Catherine Magliocchetti
My colleagues and I recently traveled to Pittsburgh to learn more about the River Alert Information Network (RAIN) and its interactive website that tracks the condition of the basin’s six mighty rivers and displays that information in near real time. The website’s monitoring map has a wealth of river data available and accessible to the public.
Users can provide overlay tools like watershed boundaries, rivers, and U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) sites that help put into context the data provided at each monitoring location. Many of the map overlays provide additional links to pertinent sites maintained by EPA and/or USGS, so associated data can be easily accessed.
Taking the pulse of these rivers is a big deal since Southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia are home to about two million residents, living and relying upon the Ohio River Basin for drinking water, recreation, and commercial and industrial use. In particular, many drinking water supplies draw source water from the Allegheny, Monongahela, Youghiogheny, Shenango, Beaver and Ohio rivers.
RAIN is a source water protection organization, whose goal is to better ensure the protection of public health and access to quality drinking water across this vast watershed. In addition to community outreach and education, RAIN’s primary focus is to continuously monitor water quality and post data on-line.
RAIN was developed as a voluntary effort through collaboration among 33 area water systems, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the California University of Pennsylvania, all of whom recognized the importance of protecting the tributaries of the Ohio River.
Visit RAIN’s website to check on your favorite river in the Ohio basin.
About the Author: Catherine Magliocchetti is a member of the Office of Drinking Water and Source Water Protection (SWP), with a focus on efforts in West Virginia and with the River Action Information Network, and she is currently leads the Potomac Algae Project group. Catherine and her family live along the Delaware River in Washington Crossing, PA.