ANRA develops innovative online content, partners with Attoyac Bayou WPP
The Angelina and Neches River Authority (ANRA) has recently combined imaging technology and water quality monitoring to offer innovative online resources to its customers throughout 17 counties in the Neches River Basin.
ANRA administers several water quality related environmental programs, including the Texas Clean Rivers Program, and in April began taking panoramic photos for each of their Clean Rivers water quality monitoring sites.
“We are a very small organization, so everybody has to wear multiple hats,” said Brian Sims, ANRA Environmental Division Manager. “Our Field Collector is also our entire IT Department. He began creating these panoramas with his iPhone, and we thought it was a great idea. Now we’ve progressed to using a 16-megapixel camera with a fisheye lens, stitching the images together, and making them available to the public online.”
Water quality monitoring data often includes upstream and downstream photos, but ANRA takes documentation one step further by providing residents with easily accessible and interactive panoramic photos of each monitoring site on their website.
“We believe these photos are useful for assessment purposes, for example, looking at different seasons to see if a stream is perennial or intermittent,” Sims said.
"In one of the photos you can clearly tell that recreation has been occurring at that site—there are soda cans and props for fishing poles. It’s obvious that people are using the water, and with this kind of documentation, you can go back and look during different seasons to observe changes.”
The site also enables users to zoom and pan through the entire 360-degree view.
“In the past we just had maps, station locations, and station descriptions,” Sims said. “It’s easy for us to give people information about the monitoring site, but if they can see it for themselves and explore the sampling site themselves, online, then it makes it that much easier to understand.”
Through the Attoyac Bayou Watershed Partnership, ANRA is also working with the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) to improve water quality in the Attoyac Bayou Watershed, a sub-watershed within the Upper Neches River Watershed. The partnership is a stakeholder-driven effort to help develop a watershed protection plan that will guide future water body restoration activities.
Sims noted that one of ANRA’s monitoring stations is on the Attoyac Bayou, and with the online tools, watershed stakeholders can view the sampling site.
“Having this photographic information available for Attoyac stakeholders is valuable,” Sims said. “We like being able to show people what’s going on in the watershed, and not just talk about it.”
The Attoyac Bayou has been listed as an impaired water body for a number of years because of high levels of E.coli bacteria. ANRA has helped the partnership through laboratory analysis and database assistance.
“By providing water quality analysis and data management, ANRA has been a valuable partner in the Attoyac Bayou Watershed Partnership,” said Lucas Gregory, TWRI project manager.
The Development of the Attoyac Bayou Watershed Protection Plan is funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.