Scientists at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) have developed an app that can answer any question about the condition of the waters in and around Long Island.
The Long Island Beach and Water Quality App (LIBAWQA) is described as the world’s first ever all-in-one water quality app for the public. Building on decades of research by the Gobler Laboratory at Stony Brook and public resources and reporting by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health, and the Nassau and Suffolk County Health Departments, the LIBAWQA provides up to the minute information on the open and closed status of hundreds of Long Island beaches, and the open and closed status of every bay, harbor, estuary and river on Long Island with regard to shellfishing.
In addition, the app features weekly water quality monitoring by the Gobler Laboratory, which covers more than 30 locations across Long Island and provides information on algae, fecal coliform bacteria, dissolved, oxygen, water clarity, and harmful algal blooms like brown and red tides. While all of that data is available on the app, this detailed scientific information is distilled down to a simple ranking of good, fair or poor, which is earned by each water body based on how conditions rank relative to state and federal water quality guidelines.
Relying on the resources of the SoMAS Geospatial Center, professor Sung Gheel Jang assembled a team of scientists and students that used geospatial information system tools with publicly available data to create the resources. The mobile application is free and designed to run on iOS and Android devices. An internet connection is required to access the full capabilities of this application.
“People live on Long Island to enjoy the incredible beaches and water bodies. Our goal was to make it easy to access beach and water quality information, all at once,” said Chris Gobler, professor of marine sciences. “Whether you’re a beach lover, fishermen, baymen, swimmer, or looking for scientific information about Long Island’s water quality conditions, all of the relevant information is right at your fingertips with this app.”
Both scientists emphasizes that the LIBAWQA is for informational purposes only. While the app continually mirrors state and county databases, they recommend using the links within the app to confirm with the state and county health departments and NYSDEC for details on where swimming and shellfishing is permitted.
“The production of this app demonstrates the ability of the Geospatial Center in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences to offer imaginative and unique GIS and remote sensing-related solutions for students, faculty and the surrounding communities,” Jang said.
Kevin McDonald, senior policy advisor at the Nature Conservancy said: “”For decades, The Nature Conservancy has invested in protecting Long Island’s coastal ecosystems. This app will allow the public to better enjoy those ecosystems, specifically the beaches and shellfishing grounds. It also makes clear, there are many regions of Long Island that are not suitable for swimming, shellfishing, and/or fishing and therefore is a clear demonstration that more work needs to be done to protect Long Island’s coastal ecosystems.”
To access the Long Island Beach and Water Quality App:
- Install ArcGIS AppStudio Player from Google Play, the Apple App Store or the Microsoft Store. This is free.
- Open your camera and scan the adjacent QR code. The player will download the app and open it. That’s it. No login is required.