EPA Launches Cyanobacteria Web Tool for Water Quality Monitoring

EPA Launches Cyanobacteria Web Tool for Water Quality Monitoring

EPA scientists take samples at Milford Lake in Kansas in 2019. This month, EPA and USGS scientists involved with CyANWeb will sample two Kansas lakes for HABs. (Photo by Laura Webb, U.S. EPA)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently launched the CyANWeb application, expanding digital platforms beyond its CyAN Android app. The new web tool shows users when a harmful algal bloom (HAB) may be forming in waters where people swim, fish and boat.

Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, occur in many water bodies. However, when they multiply, they can form potentially toxic HABs, which can increase drinking water treatment costs for communities and be harmful to people and pets in lakes and recreational waters.

“Making this satellite data available across more platforms will improve our ability to respond to harmful algal blooms,” says Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the EPA Science Advisor. “The release of this update is another step toward ensuring the quality of our nation’s drinking and recreational waters.”

CyANWeb, developed by the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) with input from EPA Region 7 scientists and other Kansas experts, uses satellite data that was previously only available within the CyAN Android app. This tool alerts water quality managers and community members on specific changes in the color of the water in more than 75 water bodies within Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), and 2,000 of the largest lakes and reservoirs across the United States.  

Kansas scientists’ research and testing support CyANWeb app

This summer, EPA Region 7 will team with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Kansas Water Science Center to sample Clinton Lake and Wilson Lake in Kansas for HABs detected by CyAN satellites.

This follows work that EPA Region 7 scientists began in 2019. These experts joined forces with federal and state partners to test CyANWeb in its early stages, providing valuable feedback and suggestions for enhancement. The project included the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and assisted CyAN developers in creating the web-based application that is now available for public use.

“The EPA Office of Research and Development’s use of Regional Applied Research Effort funding was instrumental in enabling the beta-testing partnerships that led to the CyAN app’s extension to web-based platforms,” says Cecilia Tapia, director of EPA Region 7’s Laboratory Services and Applied Science Division.

“CyANWeb is an important tool for initial detection of harmful algal blooms in local lakes,” says EPA Region 7 chemist Laura Webb. “Our laboratory’s continued support of CyAN through field sampling will provide valuable data that will help to fine-tune the regional information presented on the app.”

About CyANWeb

CyANWeb uses historical and current satellite data to develop daily and weekly images that serve as an early warning system for HABs. These images can help federal, state, tribal and local partners in their efforts to monitor and assess water quality. They can also help lake managers and people who swim, fish or boat in lakes identify when a HAB may be forming.

CyANWeb is easy to use and has features that let users view comparisons of multiple water bodies over time, as well as mark locations for future reference. Users can access CyANWeb with the help of a desktop computer, tablet, smart phone and most other internet-browsing devices. CyAN Android is available for download in the Google Play store for Android devices.

This web tool is EPA’s latest effort stemming from the CyAN partnership with researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and USGS.


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