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Taking a swim? App lets users check water's cleanliness first

By Todd Sperry, CNN
updated 5:34 PM EDT, Thu October 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • EPA launches its My Waterway app, available through the agency's website
  • Software allows users to check the water quality in thousands of lakes, rivers and streams
  • CNN uses app to check on D.C. waterways and found lots of polluted sites

Washington (CNN) -- Swimmers, if you want to know how filthy that lake or stream is before you jump in, there's now an app for that.

The Environmental Protection Agency launched its My Waterway app on Thursday, available through the agency's website.

By identifying the user's GPS location, the software allows swimmers and fishers to check the water quality in thousands of lakes, rivers and streams in the United States from their computer or smartphone.

A list of waterways within five miles of the user's search location is returned and includes details about the water condition. Users can also enter a physical address to get results.

CNN checked the app from its Washington offices near the U.S. Capitol. The My Waterway app identified 19 waterways within five miles of the nation's capital, all either listed as polluted or condition unknown.

One of those waterways near the capital, the Anacostia River, has long been plagued by pollution so bad the Natural Resources Defense Council deemed it a "poster child for America's tragically neglected, abused urban waterways."

The app's results showed the river had low oxygen, murky water, pesticides, toxic chemicals and trash, among other warnings about the river's condition.

The EPA's latest smart phone app was announced in conjunction with the agency's 40th anniversary commemoration of the Clean Water Act being enacted on October 18, 1972. The software is available through the EPA's website and not Apple's app store or Google Play.

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