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So Exactly Where Are Community Water Systems Located?

Authors: Adrienne Parks*, Vanderbilt University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Applied Geography
Keywords: Water quality, drinking water, county-level analysis, geospatial, service boundary areas, social justice
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was established to ensure a potable public water
supply throughout the US. The Act includes specific monitoring and reporting guidelines
for 88 contaminants that public water systems must adhere to. The US Environmental
Protection Agency maintains the Safe Drinking Water Information System database,
which includes violations (i.e. does not meet regulatory standards) by contaminant and
system-level. The most granular level of research that can be conducted using this
database or any other publicly available source of drinking water is at the county-level.
This is problematic as a county may have more than one water system and county-level
analysis may mask drinking water issues at a more granular scale. The purpose of this
research is to construct a state-wide geospatial repository of the spatial coverage of
community water systems in Tennessee; a proof-of-concept project. Through a
collaborative effort with government agencies, utility representatives, and academics
institutions, maps (e.g. paper, pdf) have been digitized and several techniques utilized to
construct polygons to represent spatial coverage of a water system. The intent is to
provide a methodology to construct service areas that can be applied across all states and
link to water quality, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic data. Geospatial service
boundary areas of community water systems will allow a more granular level of analysis
to be conducted of drinking water contaminants and associated potential health outcomes
with the potential of identifying potential patterns of environmental injustice.

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