A new and improved version of CE3's watershed data website is now available for public use. The site is called www.watersheddata.com and it allows users to view detailed information about the quality of several Ohio watersheds and track the progress of current reclamation efforts. It is funded in part by the American Electric Power Foundation (AEP).
Jen Bowman is a senior environmental project manager at the Ohio University Voinovich School's Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3), as well as a member of the Raccoon Creek Partnership. She has an in-depth knowledge of water and water quality, having worked in the field for 17 years since she was a student at Ohio University. She has applied this expertise, in conjunction with that of other CE3 team members working in GIS, to this website since its inception.
She notes that when the website was created in 2007, it was a crucial new tool for researchers to visualize water quality data. "It was the first time we could see water quality data depicted on a map," she says.
Initially, the website was used as an online database by people working with the Raccoon Creek, Sunday Creek, Monday Creek, Huff Run, Moxahala Creek, Yellow Creek, Rush Creek, and Leading Creek water restoration projects. These watersheds are spread across the coal-bearing region of Ohio and were highly affected by the mining industry. They are still an important part of the updated website, but now the entire state is accessible for users to store and retrieve their water quality data.
One of the ways that the new website makes information more accessible is by allowing users to find specific data. Previously, users who wanted to download water quality information received a single spreadsheet that contained their entire watershed's data. With the update, they can now choose to download data about a specific location based on hydrological unit codes and time frame. Users can also now search the website by individual sampling site locations.
Descriptions of specific pollutants that affect Ohio's waters can also now be found on the website. Ohio's waters are affected by acid mine drainage, erosion and sedimentation, livestock run-off, and pesticides. The website contains information about each of these pollutants, how it affects water quality, and what projects are currently ongoing to reduce its presence across the state.
The updated version of the website also utilizes improved mapping tools to better visualize the data. Users can now overlay streams and water bodies with the locations of deep mines and surface mines on maps of the watersheds. Bowman notes that this feature was created because of input from partner watersheds using the previous version of the website. "We talked with our watershed partners to gather input about what they would want with the new site," she says.
To help keep the data from these groups organized, the new website features pages for each partner. These pages include watershed information, maps, and a gallery of photos taken on site.
One section still under development will include visual trends of the various water quality parameters through time for each of the partner watersheds. The system will utilize the data stored in the database and display a yearly average to let watershed users view the water quality data spatially and through time.
Bowman says that the website will continue to change as CE3 creates new partnerships in the future. A free and useful tool for watershed professionals now, Bowman as that the website will be expanded to meet the needs of new partners as they arise.
Bowman will be speaking more about CE3's water projects at the upcoming 2013 National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Conference and Workshops on Monday, October 28, in Cleveland, OH.