Databases Can Help Environmental Reporting

August 24, 2016

Data journalism is in again. Some new databases can help environmental reporters find and investigate local stories.

During these hot and sometimes rainy months of late summer, beaches are often closed for environmental reasons — whether bacterial pollution from sewage overflows, harmful algal blooms or spikes of vibrio from high water temperatures. Often the problems are chronic in a given area.

EPA's Beacon 2.0 database can help. It is map-based and geographically searchable. You can find it here.

There are also many stories these days about dam removal. U.S. streams are dotted with dams, some of which are obsolete and unneeded, and many of which impair the ecological health of streams. In recent decades, hundreds have been removed, and more are likely to be removed once ways are found to pay for the work.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Dam Removal Information Portal (DRIP) is one way to look for — and look at — dam removal projects. Many are historical dam removals that have already been completed. The DRIP database can be found here.

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