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Village Blue

Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring in the Baltimore Harbor

Mr. Trash Wheel Sensors placed near the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel on the Jones Falls River are gathering real-time water quality measurements for the Village Blue demonstration project.EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) initiated the Village Blue project to increase public awareness about local water quality in the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Village Blue is providing real-time water quality monitoring data to the Baltimore community and complements work already being done toward the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore's goal of making Baltimore Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.

EPA and USGS installed a monitoring site on the Jones Falls River near the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Mr. Trash WheelExit, which captures trash before it enters the harbor. Village Blue builds on EPA’s Village Green project, which provides real-time air quality information to communities in six locations across the country.

Explore and view the water quality data


  • What data are being collected and where are the data displayed?

    Village Blue’s water quality sensor station and Mr. Trash Wheel are both located on the Jones Falls River where it enters Baltimore Harbor.A USGS staff member reads data collected by the Village Blue water quality sensors.
    Real-time water quality data are being collected and then displayed in the Village Blue Baltimore monitoring application, which does not require a download and is compatible with all operating systems. EPA developed this mobile-friendly, easy-to-understand web-based application to provide the community with insights on the relationship between water quality and the external environment. For example, it can show how environmental factors, such as heavy rainfall, in the Baltimore Harbor may contribute to changes in water quality—such as nitrate, turbidity, or dissolved oxygen.

    The following data are being collected:

    • Precipitation
    • Gage Height
    • Stream Velocity
    • Turbidity
    • Salinity
    • Dissolved Oxygen
    • Nitrate
    • Temperature
    • pH

    Village Blue Baltimore's live data can also be downloaded and viewed on USGS's National Water Information System website.

  • How are data being collected?

    Aerial map showing the location of the Village Blue sensorsVillage Blue water quality sensors are located along the Jones Falls River, just upstream of Mr. Trash Wheel.To monitor water quality in the Jones Falls River and Inner Baltimore Harbor, data are being collected in real-time by water sensors located underwater between the bridge and Mr. Trash Wheel. Multiple water sensors are connected to probes that record measurements of selected water quality parameters every five minutes. The monitoring site is helping to test, evaluate, and develop new water sensors that collect real-time water quality data.



  • What will Village Blue accomplish?

    Village Blue’s water quality sensor station and Mr. Trash Wheel are both located on the Jones Falls River where it enters Baltimore Harbor.Village Blue’s water quality sensor station and Mr. Trash Wheel are both located on the Jones Falls River where it enters Baltimore Harbor.
    Village Blue’s monitoring data will help close water quality information gaps and give citizens and professional scientists more data to inform communities, policies, and environmental restoration efforts. From April 2017 through September 2018, the Village Blue project will accomplish the following:

    • Provide important water quality information for Baltimore Harbor.
    • Support the development and test the accuracy of new water sensors.
    • Increase public awareness of water quality and ecosystem health through integration and visualization of real-time water quality data.
    • Produce an open source Village Blue data integration and visualization framework and how-to manual, which can be used local and by other communities wanting to develop their own Village Blue stations.

    Water quality monitoring data can help communities take action to keep local watersheds healthy. Watersheds—the land areas that drain into streams, lakes, and rivers—directly impact the health of the water bodies and communities they surround. Learn more about the benefits of healthy watersheds.

  • Who are EPA’s partners on Village Blue?

    The National Aquarium's Conservation Team dissect their Biohuts to determine species abundance and diversity.The National Aquarium's Conservation Team dissects their Biohuts to determine species abundance and diversity. Photo: Charmaine Dahlenburg, National AquariumEPA is partnering with several local and state organizations to implement the Village Blue project and raise public awareness about the importance of monitoring and protecting local waters.

    Learn more from our partners about protecting Baltimore’s waters:

    • Blue Water Baltimore Exit
      Blue Water Baltimore operates a large network of non-real-time monitoring sites in Baltimore. Blue Water Baltimore will be contributing to Village Blue’s data visualization and providing data to help scientists understand the Jones Falls River measurements.
    • City of Baltimore Exit
      The City of Baltimore has a network of non-real-time water quality monitors and is contributing to the data visualization and communication of the water quality data. View City of Baltimore’s water quality dataExit 
    • Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)Exit
      The Maryland DNR has an extensive network of real-time and non-real-time water quality monitors and is contributing to Village Blue’s data visualization. Maryland water quality data and related information can found through the Eyes on the Bay website.Exit
    • Maryland Science CenterExit
      The Maryland Science Center interprets and distills the latest in scientific discovery for the public. They will assist in developing hands-on water sensor education opportunities.
    • National AquariumExit
      The National Aquarium opened in 1981 on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and features educational displays on aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay. The aquarium is contributing to Village Blue’s website content and data visualization, which includes real-time data collected near ships in the inner harbor. The aquarium will also help develop approaches to share Village Blue’s water quality information with the community.
    • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
      USGS provides operation and maintenance of Village Blue’s water sensors, data quality assurance, and access to water quality data through its water services program. USGS will also be contributing to Village Blue’s data visualization and sensor evaluation.
    • Waterfront Partnership of BaltimoreExit
      The Waterfront Partnership manages a Healthy Harbor Plan that focuses on reducing bacteria, stormwater runoff, and trash in the Baltimore Harbor. They installed the Baltimore Inner Harbor Water Wheel and produce an annual Healthy Harbor Report Card. Exit

Related Resources

Other Water Quality Projects in the Baltimore Area

Contact Us

Contact the Village Blue Team for technical questions or additional information on Village Blue.