July 2003: Volume 45, Number 7
Web Surfing to Combat the Dog Days of Summer
by Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor
The summer months can mean only one thing—drink plenty of water. How often has this piece of advice been ingrained into your head via doctors, family members, news reports, leaflets, etc.? Exactly, and you can only expect it to grow no matter what your drinking habits become (and being in this industry, this can only benefit you in the long run). With this in mind, websites that dedicate themselves to drinking water must bring more to the table than the typical 8×8-rule recommendation. In our quest to find out exactly what else is being discussed on these sites, we procured these three and monitored what other water-related topics seem to dominate their Internet landscapes.
Tabbed as “the online information system for the drinking water community,” the home page here is minimal yet effective. All the main buttons contain a link, and most of the buttons are pertinent. We’ll highlight the more notable ones in order of appearance. As far as I can tell, H2O News was designed as a news item tool but when I click on it, I find the “news” is about two weeks old. You realize how many 8-ounce glasses can be consumed over that period of time?
Partners is a short list of those organizations or companies with some type of mutual business relationship with Drinking H2O. Since there are only five, I believe it’s worth mentioning them—Technology Planning and Management Corp. (which plays a major role in designing the site), McGuire Environmental Consultants Inc. (a group tied closely with www.safedrinkingwater.com, a site reviewed here previously), Summers & Hooper Inc., Malcolm Pirnie, and RESOLVE. All but Summers & Hooper have a link to their own site.
So much for Events… all industry calendar items are from last year. Did someone say “asleep at the wheel”? In an attempt to make up for that, Links gives visitors an effective alphabetical listing of water resources. Each comes with a brief description of what each organization does and, of course, a web link for more information. I test the Search button by typing in “perchlorate” and get absolutely nothing. Not good!
Yes, school is out, kids, but this site encourages you to visit Robert Teeter’s library. Who is Robert Teeter? According to the site, Teeter says that “(t)his page contains links to resources that I find useful in my work as a librarian in a California water agency. I hope other librarians in similar institutions will find them useful, too.” I must go back to the domain name. I checked, Robert, and www.waterlibrarian.org isn’t taken. Why not switch over and gain a familiar name, not to mention a stronger Internet following?
Launched in 1996, about a third of the site is devoted to water issues. Meta Pages is Mr. Teeter’s way of saying “links.” Visitors may be surprised to not see many drinking water sites, but rather links to the likes of the National Water Research Institute, Water Environment Federation as well as a few universities such as Alberta, Wisconsin, Washington State and Nebraska. At Water News…, the site provides a list of water news sources and not the actual items themselves. A slight disappointment.
Be careful not to overlook the Databases button, if for only one reason. Under “Terminology,” an encyclopedia of terms is given along with the WQA’s Glossary of Terms. From “abandoned water right” to “zone of saturation,” it can get rather legal so you may want to watch a little Law & Order before proceeding. International and regional (water) issues are depicted with available links. Almost every continent is represented with some worthwhile mentions including Water for People, Lifewater International, and Water in Africa.
Cyber-nook? A water website? Yes! From the old adage, “…every nook and cranny,” I have an idea what a nook is, but what does that have to do with water? Alas, this site provided very little insight into my query. But what it actually does is more important. The home page opens with the tag line—”Everything you wanted to know about drinking water, but didn’t know who to ask.” Not entirely original, but at least it didn’t presume I was too afraid to ask.
Theoretically, this site could warrant a review all by itself. But since space tells us otherwise, I will hit on a few key buttons. Moreso than the other two sites, this one is directed at the residential user and those who serve that market. There are four major headings—drinking water concerns, drinking water contaminants, risk factors for contaminants, and treatment methods. Somewhat textbook in its approach, it’s worth a half hour or more of browsing to see the breadth of information available. You can always come back for more.
Whether it comes from a bottle, tap or some other type of treated source, water is vital to our health as well as the health of many of our businesses. Therefore, it’s important to know all we can about it and what can be done to prevent any kind of decrease in water quality. These three sites approach the issue in their own way but with favorable results and a few misses.
Soaking It Up
Upon further review, this site was built for the small community water operator. That’s still no reason to leave some of these buttons as incomplete or, in the case of events, neglected for months at a time. If it weren’t for the links, this site could be chalked up to “the online lack of information system...”
OK, when you were in school, libraries meant one thing—you’re late with that paper you should have written weeks ago but instead waited until the last second. Well, if your paper is on water and due tomorrow, this is the kind of site you’ll visit to try and salvage a passing grade.
For the POU/POE contingent, this is the one where you’ll spend most of your time. Very few hot links exist in the body of the home page; most will be located to the right. But the categories flow well and it’s a snap to navigate. If you have a few minutes, fill out the easy-to-follow water survey.