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Nurses are often asked to provide information related to the safety of our communities and local environments. Those of us who are not community or public health nurses do not always know the best resources for obtaining this information. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a readily available new application (app) to that using global positioning system (GPS) technology to provide convenient and reliable information about the water quality and water safety of thousands of streams, lakes, and rivers.


Available at, the EPA's "How's My Waterway" app and Web site are accessible using smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. Once a link is established using a zip code or city name, the user can then select "use my location," enter the zip code of the area of interest, or enter the city name. A list of waterways within miles of the search location is provided, with each waterway classified as unpolluted, polluted, or not assessed.


Listed are types of pollutants, date identified, and actions taken to clear up the pollution. The user can link to color-coded maps of the area that indicate water status. Additionally, the site provides links to information related to issues such as beach closings, fish advisories, drinking water, and "What You Can Do," technical reports evaluating bacteria content, the presence of heavy metals, or oxygen levels, are available for many of the waterways. EPA has provided us with a convenient resource to effectively address the needs of our communities.


Source: Valentine J. New app lets users check health of waterways anywhere in the U.S. EPA Newsroom. 2012 Press Releases. October 18, 2012. Available at Accessed December 11, 2012.


Submitted by Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL,