May 06, 2021

EPA Releases Updated Tool to Protect Recreational Waters

The survey data collected will also include the location of storm water drains, surface water quality and weather conditions.

storm water

A new EPA mobile app will help communities track water quality at their beaches.

According to EPA, the goal of the web-based app Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters, is to help communities and “citizen scientists” protect swimmers and other recreational users from contaminants and identify sources of pollution.

To download the free app, users must request credentials from the EPA to download the free app, according to EPA.

“Everyone has a role in protecting public health and the environment. With EPA’s new app, community members can play a part in ensuring safer recreation and cleaner drinking water sources,” said Director of EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Deborah Nagle in the news release. “Real-time, high-quality data help improve prioritization of remediation actions and the development of models that would support same-day decisions on swimming advisories.”

The app can help citizen scientists provide data on sources of pollution in a watershed and information on potential harmful algal blooms in surface waters that public health officials need to protect a community, according to EPA. Waterbody managers will be able to evaluate contributing waterbody and watershed information including water quality data, pollution source data, and land use data.

The survey data collected will also include: weather conditions; number of birds; dogs or people at the beach; location and condition of bathrooms near the beach; location of storm water drains, surface water quality and residential septic tank information.

These efforts also aim to help promote safe public access to urban waterways and lead to aquatic ecosystem restoration.

According to EPA, the features and benefits of the App include:

  • Compatibility with all mobile/handheld devices (smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptops);
  • Free to use or store data compared to other similar apps;
  • Accessibility through Survey123 via Google Play, Apple’s App Store and any browser;
  • Connectivity to WiFi or Internet not required for use in the field;
  • Ability to include photos;
  • Geolocates beach and waterbody locations;
  • And ability to download data in several file formats including Shapefiles, CSV, Excel, and GeoJSON. 

The agency will be conducting free, live training webinars between late April and late May on how to use the app, reported EPA. The dates and pre-registration instructions for the live training webinars are available on EPA’s Beaches website.

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