by Alicia Pimental
May 19, 2010
Maryland has launched a new website called StreamHealth to help residents learn about the health of their local streams and take action to improve them.
StreamHealth is an interactive online map that provides resources for citizens, watershed groups, students and other local organizations to survey their streams, receive technical guidance and learn about funding opportunities to restore and protect streams.
On the map, residents can zoom in to specific areas or search for their address to find their nearest streams, which are color-coded to show whether they are in good, fair or poor health.
Local streams are important because they flow to the Bay, feeding water – and pollution. Ultimately, the quality of local streams affects the quality of the entire Bay.
“The health of the Bay is ultimately determined by what we do on the land – in our cities and towns, on our farms and forests, in our schools and backyards,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Through this website we are providing information that is real to people because they can see the status of the streams in their neighborhoods –- our lifelines to the Bay.”
The StreamHealth map includes information about forested buffers and impervious surfaces, two of the major factors influencing the health of streams. Forested buffers planted along streams slow pollution from entering waterways, while impervious surfaces increase the flow of pollution.
Maryland residents can get involved and help their local stream by joining Stream Waders, a volunteer water monitoring program that provides data for StreamHealth. Over the past 10 years, nearly 1,800 people have volunteered as Stream Waders at about 6,000 sites throughout the state.
The map was developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the Maryland Environmental Service, Towson University and the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Information Technology.
To view the interactive map, visit www.streamhealth.maryland.gov.