Utilizing My Maps Feature in Google Maps as a Multipurpose Watershed Planning Tool for the Escatawpa River

Author(s): Liao, J.; Pote, J.; Wax, C.; Linhoss, A.

This project involved using a tool to coordinate and track activities impacting an entire watershed and producing a synoptic map giving a snapshot in time. This allows multiuser analysis and discussion for setting priorities in future development. The Escatawpa River was selected to demonstrate this capability. Issues addressed were both water quality and water quantity. It has become growingly important to address the accumulation of activities in the entire watershed. For example, in terms of water quality, elevated bacterial counts can impact oyster harvest. In terms of water quantity, decreased flow raises salinity levels impacting the estuarine and coastal ecosystem of the Mississippi Sound. This project mapped activities along the length of the Escatawpa River and its tributaries that might explain variations in water quality and quantity of the river. The method chosen for this multipurpose study was My Maps feature in Google maps. My Maps is an interactive tool that allows users to position markers and leave annotations. The markers have different colors and shapes to help the user stay organized. Furthermore, the users can go back and forth between different types of maps such as satellite and terrain. In this study, several categories were examined which included tributaries, impact analysis, gage stations, golf courses, and septic systems. The categories are differentiated based on color, and the subcategories are separated based on shape. Each marker is assigned its respective color and shape. Furthermore, each marker has a description section to record observations and to keep track of discoveries. These information could be used to prioritize targeted areas of concern and accumulated effects of activities. Discrepancy between terrain and satellite maps were of particular interest, since they could reflect either a flaw in mapping or a change over time. Usually, the discrepancy revolved around bodies of water missing or existing in one type of map and not in the other.

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