National Hydrography Dataset

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) represents the water drainage network of the United States with features such as rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, coastline, dams, and streamgages.

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is mapped at 1:24,000 or larger scale (1:63,360 or larger scale in Alaska). These data are updated and maintained through Stewardship partnerships with states and other collaborative bodies. The NHD, Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD), and 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) data are used to create the NHDPlus High Resolution.

The NHD is available as a file geodatabase download, which maintains the richness of the complex NHD database model, including multiple feature datasets, feature classes, event feature classes, attribute tables, relationship classes, domains, and feature-level metadata. The NHD file geodatabase download contains NHD data in the Hydrography feature dataset. It also includes the WBD in a second feature dataset.

It is also available as a shapefile download, which simplifies this structure by containing all of the feature classes as separate shapefiles and tables as separate data files.

For information about NHD specifications, please see the Hydrography Standards and Specifications page.

EPA updates EJScreen

EPA has updated and added new capabilities to EJScreen, the Agency’s publicly available environmental justice screening and mapping tool. EJScreen 2.1 makes important improvements to better meet the needs of users, including the addition of new data on US territories, supplemental indexes, threshold maps, and refreshed demographic and environmental data. 

  • EJScreen now includes environmental, demographic, and index data for the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • In addition to the twelve existing environmental indicators and corresponding EJ indexes, EPA has created a set of “supplemental indexes” to highlight vulnerable populations that may be disproportionately impacted by pollution. These supplemental indexes use the same methodology and calculation as the EJ Indexes but incorporate a new five-factor supplemental demographic index. The five socioeconomic indicators considered are percent low-income, percent limited English-speaking, percent less than high school education, percent unemployed, and low life expectancy.
  • EPA has also included threshold maps. These threshold maps allow EJScreen users to look across all twelve indexes at once, providing a cumulative outlook on vulnerable populations facing higher pollution burdens. Threshold maps are available for both the EJ indexes and the supplemental indexes and are available for comparison at the national and state level, offering users the capability to take a broader view of the indexes to help highlight areas that may warrant additional consideration, analysis, or outreach.
  • This update also features the newest available 2016 – 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) data from the U.S. Census. Some of the environmental datasets have also been refreshed. This update includes several enhancements to components of the methodology and underlying calculation for the EJ indexes and supplemental indexes. These were based upon user and expert academic feedback and will enhance the tool’s ability and provide greater transparency into the inner workings of the tool.

EPA is holding multiple training sessions and office hours for users on EJScreen 2.1. The training session will provide an overview presentation on EJScreen, a discussion of the new features, a demonstration, and a Q&A session. The office hours will be a chance for the public to talk with EPA EJScreen experts about many topics including how to use and apply the tool and technical issues. These webinars will be accessible via Zoom and registration is not required. More information can be found on EPA’s website.

EPA encourages you to test out EJSCREEN 2.1 to see how it can serve your needs and provide feedback on how they can continue to improve it.

ISWS-Waterly partnership digitizes groundwater data

Water flowing through a culvert

by Tiffany Jolley, Prairie Research Institute

The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is partnering with Waterly, an Illinois-based water sector operations data analytics company, to collect groundwater pumping data from South Elgin, West Dundee, Joliet, McHenry County, and Arbury Hills.

Leveraging Waterly software will allow the ISWS groundwater science team to acquire almost real-time water pumping data that will amplify the team’s ability to forecast aquifer changes and gain a better understanding of current and future water risks across Illinois. 

The Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP), a statewide inventory of water use and withdrawals in Illinois, requires public water suppliers, self-supplied industry water users, and agricultural irrigation water users to report their water use and withdrawals.

While the legal mandate for data collection is limited to annual reporting, more frequent data can show valuable trend details that can make a massive difference in the forecasted availability of a water supply. 

“If we had monthly pumping data as well as monthly water level data, we would be able to understand more of the variability between observed and estimated water levels,” said Daniel Abrams, associate research scientist and ground flow modeler at ISWS.

In the case of northeast Illinois, groundwater withdrawals become unsustainable when the deeper sandstone layers become dewatered. As an aquifer approaches the end of its lifespan, little details make a big difference, and little details go unnoticed with annual data collection.

The City of Joliet facilitated a pilot project in 2019 that provided monthly data to the ISWS to assess local and regional water supply. The actual observed groundwater levels changed significantly throughout the year at many facilities, an observation not apparent from just looking at the annual numbers. 

The year 2030 is key for many at-risk wells in the region, because Joliet (the largest water user in the region) intends to find an alternative source by that date. Even still, modeling indicates that when Joliet switches from using the aquifer, many communities and industries will still have at-risk water supplies, particularly during peak pumping conditions. These peak pumping conditions could only be evaluated by efforts to collect monthly data.

This story first appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original story.

Global Plastic Watch: Satellite eyes pinpoint waste from space to reduce ocean pollution

Read the full story from the Minderoo Foundation.

A cutting-edge new tool developed by Minderoo Foundation has identified thousands of waste sites across 25 countries for the first time using advanced satellite data technology and machine learning to measure piles of plastic waste from space.

Global Plastic Watch is a tool which combines earth observation with artificial intelligence to create the first-ever near-real-time high-resolution map of plastic pollution. This is the largest open-source dataset of plastic waste across dozens of countries. The aim of the tool is to help authorities to better manage plastic leakage into the marine environment.

FAO unveils new public tool based on agricultural census data

Read the full story from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is endowing FAOSTAT, the world’s largest agricultural data base, with an important new domain that enables much easier comparison and assessment of trends over time of the agricultural structures of all Member countries. 

An open access portal serving as a global public good, FAOSTAT gathers and harmonizes a wealth of data on the production, trade and consumption in the agricultural sectors, by far the world’s largest economic sector in terms of employment and sustaining livelihoods. In recent years FAO has added an increasing array of critical information on greenhouse gas emissions, land use, forest cover and investment. Now it is adding “Structural Data from Agricultural Censuses,” which present fine-grained national reports that track, among others, how large farm holdings are, who works on them, and who owns them. 

USEPA’s national PFAS datasets compile and integrate state and federal data, but gaps remain

Read the full story at JD Supra.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has made available a collection of National PFAS Datasets, which collects a variety of PFAS data from different state and federal sources on one convenient webpage.  Note that, for datasets for which USEPA was not involved in the collection of data and cannot vouch for its accuracy or completeness, it offers caveats to that effect. 

Easy access to environmental research data

Read the full story from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (New Zealand).

Identifying unknown organisms, forecasting the weather and understanding the potential impacts of a tsunami. These are all possibilities opened up by a new website that has been built to provide easy access to an enormous range of environmental research data.

Electricity Map

Electricity Map’s open-source visualization shows the the climate impact of global electricity use in real time. Raw data are retrieved from a variety of public data sources, typically transmission system operators, balancing entities or market operators, which are listed here.

Net Zero Tracker

The Net Zero Tracker collects data on targets net zero targets pledged by nations, states and regions, cities and companies, as well as on factors that indicate the integrity of those targets — essentially, how serious the entity setting the target is about meaningfully cutting its net emissions to zero.

It includes data on:

  • all countries and territories, every region in the 25 largest emitting countries and all cities with 500,000+ inhabitants.
  • an overview of the 2,000 largest publicly-traded companies in the world by revenue. They analyze the key components of any net zero (or other) targets the company has announced.

A new near-real-time global database on CO2 emissions from air transport

Read the full story from OECD.

Air transport facilitates international trade and tourism and contributes to economic growth and job creation, but it also produces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to global warming. The OECD has developed a new database using a near real-time data source from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to produce estimates of CO2 emissions from air transport. The new estimates have global coverage and ensure a consistent allocation of CO2 emissions across countries. The data and methods are described in a Working Paper published today.