Wake County Public Water Quality: A GIS-powered web application to aid residents of Wake County, NC in exploring local drinking water quality

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Title: Wake County Public Water Quality: A GIS-powered web application to aid residents of Wake County, NC in exploring local drinking water quality
Author: Hoskins, Matthew
Abstract: Hoskins, Matthew. Master of Environmental Assessment. Wake County Public Water Quality: A GIS-powered web application to help residents of Wake County, NC, explore drinking water quality. Background: A public water system (PWS) is a water distribution system that provide drinking water for at least 25 people or 15 service connections for at least 60 days per year. The standard method of delivering water quality information for these systems is the annual delivery of a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), summarizing information about the water source, pollutants, and actions taken. Residents may not always receive these reports, and even then, may not understand the information presented. To address this issue, an ArcGIS Online web application, Wake County Public Water Quality (WCPWQ), was created to allow residents of Wake County, North Carolina, to find instant access to water quality information for all of the PWSs within the county. Methods: In ArcMap 10.6.1, shapefiles containing the location of PWS sources, city and town jurisdictions, and county borders were combined. This produced a map of the sources and jurisdictions within the Wake County area. Water Quality information was gathered from the NC Drinking Water Watch database and joined to its respective water systems and jurisdictions. This map was then uploaded to ArcGIS Online to produce a Web Map with descriptive pop-ups for the sources and jurisdictions. Using the ArcGIS Online Web AppBuilder, a web application was created to allow users to search any location within Wake County and see the relevant water quality information. This application was embedded into a StoryMap which provides relevant context to describe the application to users. Results: The end product was an ArcGIS Online StoryMap, that acts as a vehicle to present the WCPWQ web application. This StoryMap describes PWSs and the basics of water distribution. The StoryMap then provides health implications for the main contaminants presented in the application — lead, arsenic, coliform bacteria, and E. coli — and a brief regulatory explanation. It goes on to describe the current method of retrieving water quality information, a CCR, and gives a comparison to the web application created. The StoryMap then presents the embedded application to allow users to explore the water quality of PWSs within Wake County. Conclusion: The effective communication of scientific information is crucial in helping the public make informed choices about their health. The use of GIS technologies to disseminate drinking water quality information could greatly increase accessibility and technical understanding for Wake County consumers. The WCPWQ application shows how simple it should be for residents to receive water quality information for their home, work, school, or place of worship. Drinking water quality has a direct impact on human health, therefore it should be a quick and simple process for the public to discover what is in their drinking water.
Date: 2020-07
URI: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.20/38171

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