Penn State Extension Develops New Water Quality App

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State Extension is offering an innovative new mobile device application — or app — called H2OSolutions, to help private water system owners and professionals evaluate wells, springs and cisterns.The objective of the app is to help users diagnose the causes of observed water-quality problems and guide water-testing decisions.

“We know that people are increasingly using smartphones and other mobile devices to access their information,” said Bryan Swistock, water resources extension specialist and a member of the team that helped to develop the app. “This app will allow private water system owners to diagnose problems while they are actually looking at their water supply.”

The app includes four categories of information:

– “Identify Problems with my Water.” This section describes the causes of common water symptoms (stains, tastes, odors, etc.) and provides links to the water test parameters that may cause those symptoms. Once a water test parameter is selected, the county-based water test data can be accessed (as described below);

– “Water Test Results by County.” Users can select a Pennsylvania county and see a summary of water quality for private water supplies tested from that county between 2007 and the present by the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Laboratory. Once a county is selected, a page is displayed with the drinking water standards and the percentage of samples that failed the standard for 25 inorganic and microbiological parameters. By selecting an individual test parameter, users can also view detailed statistics including the number of samples, median, minimum and maximum concentrations for that county;

– “Find Local Penn State Extension Contacts.” The app uses the location of the phone to provide a list (organized from closest to farthest) of Penn State Extension educators and water specialists who specialize in private water system management. Information for the Penn State water testing laboratory is also provided. By selecting a person on the contact list, information, including their phone number and email address, is displayed;

– “About this App.” This icon provides information about Penn State Extension and the funding sources used to develop the application.

“We anticipate that the app will be most useful to home inspectors, real estate agents and other home professionals who need to diagnose private water system problems in the field,” said Swistock. “But any homeowner who has a private water supply can learn about local groundwater problems and diagnose issues with their water supply using this app.”

The Apple version of the app (for use on iPhones and iPads) is available at the App Store for a free download here. An Android version of the app is currently under development and should be available this summer.

This project was funded by Pennsylvania Sea Grant, a partnership of Penn State Behrend, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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