The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Office of Water Quality Planning section has been working with ADEQ Computer Services to develop a simplified, real-time notification process utilizing the ADEQ app that will allow individuals to submit images and the location of algal blooms. The app will include fields for both nuisance and harmful algal blooms and will provide a mechanism to enable ADEQ staff and other state and federal partners to have a timely response in locating and assessing potential blooms. In years past, the ability to identify specific locations or to see images of a potential bloom in order to provide a knowledgeable response has been limited. This effort demonstrates the flexibility and usefulness of our existing app and creates a wider audience to use this resource. In the long term, ADEQ would like to refine this notification system and potentially develop a spin-off, standalone application. But it has sought to create this update now to ensure that the resource is being used during the dry season of late summer and early fall.
Results to Date:
Since implementing the notification tool, ADEQ has received approximately 10-12 submissions. In addition, ADEQ has been contacted by interested individuals to learn more about the tool. This is helping to transition the conversation from one of concerns/complaints to a public engagement and education opportunity for ADEQ. Having a specific outlet for questions/concerns has helped foster a more positive tone in interactions on this issue.
These submissions have enabled ADEQ to provide timely responses to citizen concerns and ensured data would be collected in a timely manner to understand the conditions at the time of the bloom. This helps inform ADEQ’s understanding of the waterbody and will provide a basis for comparison going forward.
In order to quickly respond to a situation, ADEQ has shared notifications about blooms with partners including state and federal agencies who have helped with the field work and collecting additional information about the situation. While still early, this tool seems to be helping bolster important partnerships in addressing such concerns.