2010 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Maine Water Quality Data: Overview, Availability, Challenges
Chair: Linda Bacon, Maine DEP
Description: Access to Maine water quality data is much easier now than it was a decade ago. Knowing what information is available is the first step to mining such datasets. This session includes (1) an application of data, (2) availability of statewide data using Google Earth, (3) data and tools available in one National dataset, followed by (4) a panel discussion focusing on the challenges and limitations of using these resources. Panel members not presenting will provide a brief overview of their experience working with these datasets.
- Interactive mapping of water resources in the Lower Penobscot: working to enhance watershed stewardship
Gayle Zydlewski, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine; Peter Vaux, Mitchell Center; Lori Smith, Center for Research and Evaluation, University of Maine
The purpose of this project was to evaluate alternative map-based methods of information transfer to end-users in the Lower Penobscot watershed. In order to identify initial data sets to use in evaluations of the mapping applications, we consulted with two target user groups represented by the Lower Penobscot Watershed Coalition (LPWC): nonprofit environmental organizations and land-use decision makers. Five data layers were identified as being of most interest: subwatershed boundaries; watershed organizations; conserved lands; dams; and public boat launches. In summer 2009 three map interfaces (Google Earth, Google Map, and Online GIS) were created. The two LPWC target end-user groups were surveyed to determine the utility of the map interfaces. There was a low return rate of the mailed survey. Follow-up phone surveys were conducted to determine (1) why individuals did not take part in the mailed survey and (2) which interface they preferred. Key conclusions were that the initial survey was too long and map interfaces were too slow to keep end-users engaged enough to determine which data aspects of the maps were useful. Lessons learned from this survey have provided valuable input for ongoing development of another Web platform that provides access to water resource information and other environmental data for the Lower Penobscot and other Maine watersheds. This platform includes a faster Google mapping application and a dynamically generated listing of available mapping products. User-group input on mapping and other information visualizations will continue as part of a recently initiated project that focuses on urban streams.
- An Overview of Data Accessible from the Maine DEP's Environmental Geographic Analysis Database (EGAD) Using Google Earth
Christian Halsted, Maine DEP
The Environmental Geographic Analysis Database (EGAD) is used by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection as a repository for environmental data generated through a variety of State and Federal programs. EGAD stores data for approximately two dozen programs at MDEP including Solid Waste, Uncontrolled Sites, Petroleum Spill Remediation, Biological Monitoring, River Modeling and Ambient Toxic Monitoring. Much of the data in EGAD has a spatial component. This has allowed the GIS Unit to develop Google Earth applications as the primary tool for disseminating EGAD data to external customers.
We will review the data that is available to external users of EGAD and demonstrate the use of Google Earth to discover and retrieve it. We will also discuss some of the rationale for choosing Google Earth, the benefits we’ve realized and the challenges we are working to overcome as we continue to expand the availability and accessibility of environmental information to the public.
- Finding the Maine Story in Huge, Cumbersome National Monitoring Datasets
John Kiddon; Henry Walker, Atlantic Ecology Div., USEPA
What’s a manager, analyst, or concerned citizen to do with the complex datasets generated by State and Federal monitoring efforts? Is it possible to use such information to address Maine’s environmental issues without having a degree in informatics and statistics? This presentation will briefly review several large national USEPA monitoring programs that have evaluated water quality in Maine and elsewhere over the past decade, including the National Coastal Assessment (NCA), the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), and ongoing National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS). We’ll highlight the benefits and weaknesses of these large-scale programs that feature random site selection, consistent evaluation metrics, and limited sampling activity. In particular, we’ll appraise how well such programs address state-scale issues, and present examples of how NCA and NLA data have been used by Northeastern states. Additionally, we’ll review an approach under development that uses the familiar Excel spreadsheet to deliver, view, and interpret NLA water chemistry data. This easy-to-use tool generates maps reflecting user-designated condition categories, weighted statistics, weighted cumulative distribution function (CDF) plots, and other graphics. Ideally, the tool will promote exploration and interpretation of the NLA data, and place the condition of Maine’s lakes in regional context. As we are in the early stages of developing this and similar tools, we solicit feedback and suggestions regarding this approach.
- Panel: A facilitated discussion with the afternoon's speakers
Panelists: Christian Halsted, John Kiddon, Gayle Zydlewski