To develop a Virtual Beach (VB) model, one needs historical data on water quality from two or more beach seasons, together with potentially related environmental conditions, such as stream discharge, antecedent rainfall, wave height, waterfowl, etc... Depending on the beach, many if not all of these data will be available online, for free.
Water Quality & Beach Conditions
Historical water quality can be downloaded from EPA’s BEACON website – or from the state beach websites listed below. Depending on the state, field-collected sanitary survey data, such as turbidity, algae levels and gulls, may also be available. Note: If you have sanitary survey data for your beach, it is to your advantage to upload them to your state’s beach website. This will make building and maintaining VB models significantly easier.
- Illinois Beach Guard Viewable tables of E. coli data. Single-day summaries of sanitary survey results.
- Indiana Beach Guard Viewable tables of E. coli data. Single-day summaries of sanitary survey results.
- Michigan Beach Guard Viewable tables of E. coli data. Single-day summaries of sanitary survey results.
- New York: No state beach website. (Use EPA’s BEACON or request from counties.)
- Ohio Beach Guard: Viewable tables of E. coli data. Single-day summaries of sanitary survey results.
Both historical and real-time data on hydro-meteorological conditions, such as antecedent rainfall, gaged stream flow, lake levels and surface currents, can be accessed through the Environmental Data Discovery and Transformation (EnDDaT) portal.
Developed by the USGS Office of Water Information, EnDDaT can transform data to improve the predictive power of VB models; for example, summing rainfall or averaging stream flow over different time windows.
Models developed with VB 3.0 can access input data directly from EnDDaT. This seamless integration, together with VB 3.0's advanced model-building tools, makes it possible to develop and deploy models that can be run anytime with little more than an Internet connection.