Young girls fishing in a small creek


EPA's How's My Waterway app delivers transparency, environmental awareness

The EPA’s mission is bigger than its workforce can possibly deliver. That’s why it relies on the public to keep tabs on local conditions and help carry out agency policies. In return, EPA provides the public as much information as it can about local environment health and risks. EPA’s How’s My Waterway (HMW) project is a tool that helps both the agency and the public keep their ends of the bargain.

HMW is a platform-independent mobile website and app that helps users find information on the condition of their local waters, using a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. The application was developed to make EPA’s national water quality information system more accessible and understandable by translating science-based information for non-scientists.

In building the system, EPA developers kept to a goal to re-use existing agency computing resources, developing an application that worked on as many devices as possible and providing ‘fast and local’ access to the latest information on users’ local rivers and streams. By using existing resources, the application launched without needing any additional hosting resources.

The agency also wanted to use responsive design techniques to avoid building a native mobile application.  The team also believed a responsive designed web application would provide the most accessible way to operate across most desktop and mobile devices. 

HMW is one of EPA’s first platform-independent websites, which it delivered in less than a year and within a modest budget. HMW has been a big hit, says EPA. Last year, on the Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary, a Google search on the app was returning over 3 million results.

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