It’s RAINing Data in the Ohio River Basin

by Catherine Magliocchetti

RAIN2Want to know about water quality in the Ohio River Basin?  The information is only a few clicks away.

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.

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.

Get to Know Your Water

by Jennie Saxe

Get to know your H2O during National Drinking Water Week. US EPA Photo by Eric Vance.

Get to know your H2O during National Drinking Water Week.  US EPA Photo by Eric Vance

There’s no time like National Drinking Water Week to get to know your H2O. Here are a few ways you can boost your water IQ.

Check out the Consumer Confidence Report that you should receive from your water utility no later than July 1st. These reports are a snapshot of community water system water quality results from the past year. Your water provider may also post this important report online or deliver it to you by email.

Get to know the drinking water sources in your area by using EPA’s Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters. Find out who supplies your water, whether there are potential contaminant sources nearby, and learn how you can get involved with a source water protection partnership, such as the Schuylkill Action Network or the Lower Susquehanna Source Water Protection Partnership. You can also explore the Source Water Collaborative infographic on protecting drinking water sources using different Clean Water Act programs.

Or take this new EPA training on climate change impacts on water resources to learn how a changing climate affects water quality and availability. Kids can learn more about drinking water and the water cycle with a lesson plan or hands-on activity from EPA’s website.

And in case you missed it, EPA is embarking on a concerted engagement with key partners and stakeholders to develop and implement a national action plan to address critical drinking water challenges and opportunities. Learn more about the effort in this recent blog.

 

About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs. She spent her first 7 years at EPA working in the Region’s drinking water program.

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.

Protecting Your Drinking Water for 40 Years

By Ken Kopocis

Crossposted from EPA Connect

As I traveled across the country this year, there’s one thing I could count on everywhere I went: tap water that’s safe to drink. Drinking water is essential for healthy families, thriving communities, and strong local economies. And this month we’re proud to celebrate an important milestone as December 16, 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

We’ve made incredible progress in improving drinking water safety over the past 40 years. Before Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, EPA lacked the authority and the funding to ensure safe drinking water, and over 40% of our nation’s drinking water systems failed to meet even the basic health standards in place at the time.

Today, we almost take safe drinking water for granted. The Safe Drinking Water Act has been such a success that we sometimes lose sight of how far we’ve come. Americans drink over 1 billion glasses of tap water every day. We enjoy the cleanest drinking water in the world, with more than 90 percent of Americans receiving water that meets all standards, all the time.

We owe that accomplishment to this incredible law, and to the dedicated work of water professionals at the federal, state, and local level. Clean, reliable water is the foundation of what makes America great. It’s what lets our children grow up healthy, keeps our schools and hospitals running, and fuels our economy.

But we face new and legacy challenges to providing safe drinking water. Just this past year, the water sector struggled with the effects of a changing climate. Climate impacts hit the water sector first, with warmer temperatures, stronger storms, more extreme droughts, and changes to water chemistry.

We’ve also seen stark reminders this year that our drinking water supplies are still vulnerable. In January, a chemical spill upstream of the Charleston, WV, drinking water intake contaminated the drinking water supply for five days. Governor Tomblin estimated the spill cost the state over $70 million. And in August, algae in Lake Erie produced a toxin that made it into Toledo’s water supply. Local business came to a standstill and nearly half a million people were left without safe drinking water for two days.

These events make clear that we need to do more to protect our nation’s drinking water at the source. EPA will continue to coordinate efforts with partners like the Source Water Collaborative, made up of 25 national organizations dedicated to protecting our nation’s drinking water. The Collaborative has launched a Call to Action—asking utilities, states, federal agencies, and local governments to step up to protect source water. I encourage all of us to act.

Utilities can partner with landowners and businesses, and make sure they have plans in place with emergency responders. Local governments can help with land use planning to protect water where it counts most. States can update source water assessments.

And federal agencies can work better together. At EPA, we’re working with USDA Rural Development to better serve the 97% of our nation’s water systems with fewer than 10,000 customers. We’re offering specially tailored technical assistance and financing options for rural water systems, helping make sure they have the resources and expertise they need.

And EPA has taken an important step to protect headwaters and small streams from pollution with our proposed Clean Water Rule, which will reduce the need for expensive treatment.

Protecting drinking water has never been easy, and it’s not getting any easier. But when we focus on infrastructure investments, building partnerships, and protecting source water — we can continue to make a difference.

We’ll have to work together. And when we do, the Safe Drinking Water Act will protect future generations for decades to come.

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.