When citizens turn on the tap or take a sip from a public water fountain, they expect cold, clean water. They most certainly do not expect arsenic, lead, or E. coli; but, if the water supply isn’t carefully protected and tested contamination can happen.
Missouri and Arizona are tackling water safety with a new online compliance wizard that can benefit all states. The new wizard helps cities and other localities navigate environmental standards during water system and infrastructure upgrades. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources designed the system to enable local governments to make informed decisions, save staff time and money, and provide improved service to citizens.
The portal, dubbed Gateway for Community Assistance, essentially acts as an automated compliance consultant. The planning tool offers local governments customized recommendations for their specific projects, as well as an overview of state services. It also helps governments understand compliance information on wastewater, drinking water, storm water, solid waste, and air quality. Most importantly, it helps local governments that might be able to afford a traditional compliance consultant navigate the complicated process of upgrading water infrastructure safely.
The wizard also helps local governments coordinate across teams and agencies. Accounts on the wizard can be shared across a city or town, so recommendations and resources can be shared instantaneously and everyone can be on the same page.
For cash-strapped towns looking to upgrade water infrastructure, but struggling to find the funds, the portal also offers information about grant opportunities. Additionally, the resource has information about important water news, upcoming events and resources for local leaders and government staff.
While the wizard’s code is not open source, states included in the EPA Environmental Information Exchange Network are permitted to repurpose the portal. Since there are 90 agency partners across all 50 states enrolled in the EPA’s network, all states can build off of Arizona and Missouri’s work.