The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water (DDW) oversees the Safe Drinking Water Rules for over 1,000 public water systems. These systems serve a total population of more than two million people. This large customer base includes members of the public, water operators/managers, partner agencies, and sections within DDW. The large and diverse customer base urgently needed an interactive online reporting database that provided access to DDW’s extensive data in a way that streamlines business interactions with partner agencies, displays searchable live data, and enables the community to research water system’s sources, treatment, and compliance status.
In 2015, UDDW worked with State of Utah Department of Technology Services to create “Waterlink”, a web-based reporting database found at waterlink.utah.gov. Waterlink provides reports to the public and water-system operators displaying inventory, sampling requirements, and the compliance status of each water system. This information is live and readily available. Users can easily download and mine the data using Excel. Instead of wading through the records request process, anyone can easily find needed information on Waterlink’s public-facing pages. Waterlink’s increased transparency saves UDDW time and provides the public with immediate information about their drinking water.
Waterlink also integrates DDW engineers, geologists, and environmental scientists in the process of approving new drinking water facilities. Built into Waterlink are tools which allow searches on permits and inspections managed by DDW staff, and links to DDW’s electronic files. Features such as automatic alert emails, which notify staff of high-priority tasks, are included in each step of our streamlined permitting in Waterlink.
Waterlink provides real value across a wide spectrum, including: emergency response and harmful algal bloom tracking; operator certification management; Google Maps displaying facility locations; and DDW’s own priority tracking mechanism, the ‘Improvement Priority System Rule.’ Future additions include building inspection tools that connect to our State Drinking Water Information System database, and a user-friendly tool for the public to search the water system serving their residence.
Results to Date:
As drinking water regulators prepare for a new web-based federal database in the coming years (i.e., Prime), multiple states have approached DDW to adapt versions of Waterlink for their reporting and engineering reports and workflows. Waterlink is web-based, easy-to-learn, and adaptable for multiple state applications. It has successfully connected to the new EPA Prime database and effectively provides live information about drinking water the public requires. In addition, UDDW now avoids costly meetings and miscommunications by using Waterlink’s permitting workflow.
Marie Owens, P.E.
Director, Utah Division of Drinking Water
Utah Department of Environmental Quality