Communicating with the public about water quality issues is a challenging task. The highly technical nature of water quality data does not lend itself well to discussions with a lay population who may be very interested but not informed at a technical level. The Urban Waters Partnership successfully commissioned the web-based Metro Water Quality Assessment Tool to engage the public in a discussion about E. Coli in our urban waterways. The website provides very high-level information to help people understand why the issue is important and how it relates to them.
For users wanting to dig deeper the tool also provides access to a rich repository of data through intuitive and interactive maps and graphics. The Urban Waters Partnership recently acquired funding for an expansion of the tool out to include more water quality parameters of interest to the metro area.
The Metro Water Quality Assessment tool is built on open source technology and leverages the Open Layers mapping project, Google Technology, a Linux cloud server and the powerful PostgreSQL database server.