Today the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a revolutionary new program allowing public access to water discharge information. I can say, without a doubt, that this program is everything the EPA’s Green House Gas ministering system should have been. This program allows the user to view point source discharges from both large commercial or small private discharge areas for public use. This program offers an unbiased look at data from a point source area, and subsequently offers an excellent overview of all major and non-major polluters.
In the seminar, “EPA Releases New Tool with Information about Water Pollution Across the U.S.,” the EPA both launched and gave a tutorial on how to utilize this website. By accessing “cfpup.epa.gov/dmr”, one can utilize this new tool, and begin to navigate the waste overview website. In the search engine, one is able to break down the water sources by zip code, state, or by watershed identification number (as these areas do not generally fall within one singular state). In conjunction, the program allows for a summary of data to be posted upon the data’s release, allowing for the most up-to-date information for public record. With this, the one major limitation is that data pertinence. The current data is solely currently available from 2007-2010; data prior to 2007 was termed as “incomplete and therefore null and void” based on the lack of scope. Also, the 2011 data needs time to be recorded from state regulatory agencies, passed on to the EPA, and unified in order to provide current estimates. The process should be done by approximately late-March or early-April. This being said, the current system itself offers impressive feats by sorting areas by pollutant discharge (in lbs/year), if someone is solely looking for the major polluters of whatever chemical specified. In conjunction, the system auto-highlights any contestable data in blue, as a way to ensure someone knows if the estimates have not reached consensus, or seem questionable. When doing a basic search, the top 10 sites are shown, but one is able to look access the full data set with a few simple clicks of the mouse. When selecting a site, overall data can be sorted to show either the major discharged chemicals, or can be sorted to show the most toxic chemicals, based on user preference, illustrating these values in both averages and max, to give a range of spread of these chemicals. The site is also linked to a Google maps image of the actual site, and therefore allow for a true proximity to be estimated in regards to a user’s location.
Unlike the EPA’s Green House Gas proximal tool, the EPA’s water discharge is a more useful, unbiased look at how these sorts of systems should work. Attributable blame is not just given to large facilities; the facts are simply presented in a logical, scientific forum, and therefore allow the public to search actual problems. Both major discharge and the most toxic chemicals from selected point sources (both large and small) have are displayed on the overall water supply in an area. My question: why does the EPA-Air sector not follow this area? If EPA-Water can allow the public to assess blame for a certain contaminant in a unified, quantifiable blame over all point source emitters, why can Air not do the same for emissions monitoring? THESE ARE THE SAME DEPARTMENT, and the standards are NOT unified. Why does the air sector solely attack the large-scale emitters? If the reason is because the smaller industry and private areas have not been assessed, then why is an incomplete data set being distributed without reference to smaller discharge areas? Overall, the new EPA Water Quality Tool is an advanced, unbiased, and useful tool looking at quality of water. Perhaps the rest of the EPA should take note of this system before presenting pointed looks at incomplete data sets.