A new mapping and database program listing water quality data in Nassau and Suffolk counties is about to go online as part of a project of the Long Island Commission on Aquifer Protection.
Called WaterTraq, the program is the first of its kind in New York state. It will allow water suppliers, health officials, industry professionals and the public to research contamination by location, compound, depth of wells and other criteria.
The program is expected to launch online in July, said Tyrand “Ty” Fuller, a lead hydrologist with Suffolk County Water Authority who helped develop WaterTraq.
WaterTraq blends interactive maps with data from Excel to give a picture of water quality on Long Island. Users can search for levels of lead, iron, volatile organic chemicals, nitrates or other compounds and set limits, such as at or below safe drinking water standards. They also can overlay topography, boundaries and contours to show the depth to groundwater.
“Our goal here is to share information…to the regulators and the public at large,” Suffolk County Water Authority CEO Jeffrey Szabo said. “This is a valuable tool that nobody has been able to accomplish for a very long time.”
WaterTraq grew out of discussion among members of the Long Island Commission on Aquifer Protection, a joint effort authorized by both counties in 2014 with the mission of examining water quality and quantity issues, as well as planning for the future.
The data could help regulators determine well locations or places to test water for contaminants. It also can identify possible problem spots or areas where treatment may be needed.
“It gives you an island wide perspective of things,” Fuller said.
For instance, iron — more of an aesthetic issues than a health concern here — can be a problem along the South Shore. Looking at iron levels at recharge areas that feed the aquifers and water table contours could help water suppliers locate wells in areas where the iron would not flow down into capture zones.
“You can start to draw conclusions,” said Stan Carey, a LICAP member and Massapequa Water District superintendent. “It’s an example of the beauty of this.”
State Department of Environmental Conservation officials were briefed on the program earlier this year. Spokesman Sean Mahar said WaterTraq could be used to help the state’s new water quality rapid response team identify and respond quickly to drinking water issues.
“Gathering, mapping and displaying water quality data helps to identify risks to drinking water sources so that action can be taken to reduce risks and protect the citizens of Long Island,” Mahar said.
Data from Suffolk County Water Authority, which serves 85 percent of the county, will show water indicators for distribution areas when it is raw water and after being treated to drinking water standards. Nassau County data and Suffolk water suppliers outside the SCWA boundaries will show just raw water results but link to reports on treated water.
By next year, both counties should be able to show raw and treated water data, Carey said.
The site also will have links to how to read drinking water reports, contact information and other resources if people have questions about the data.