Archive for the ‘Consumer Tools’ Category

Let’s Hope This Sunlight Can Kill Coliform, Arsenic, and Bad User Interfaces

Photo by mrhayata. Some rights reserved.

In the name of transparency, the EPA announced yesterday the release of several improvements to the availability and usability of drinking water data in the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool.

The updated Safe Drinking Water Act search page can ostensibly used to pinpoint violations of drinking water standards in any given individual’s community. The interface, however, leaves much to be desired.

A geographic search on the tool will return a list of violators in your area. However, because of the nature of any given city’s water systems, it can be difficult to know whether a specific discharge or exceedance of the maximum contaminant levels is affecting or has affected your neighborhood’s drinking water.

To boot, the page is riddled with acronyms whose explanations are difficult to locate, and – once you have the codes all figured out – it is still often unclear whether a given episode of noncompliance has been resolved.

If you agree that the functionality and usability of the Drinking Water Data Search could be improved, don’t be shy about letting the EPA know. They are currently accepting comments on the tool that will be used to improve the service.

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