We talk about water pollution and the importance of waterway conservation all the time, but when did you last come face to face with this degradation in real life? Few people are truly aware of where their fresh water comes from, and even fewer have confronted the pollution of these lakes and rivers in person.

With help from the Environmental Protection Agency, a San Diego-based environmental group has developed a mobile app that will help citizens become more aware of local waterway health, and encourage involvement in conservation and cleanup efforts.

The Riverview app, developed by the EPA and Below the Surface, creates the equivalent of Google’s Street View function for the nation’s major rivers. The app allows the public to share photos about waterways using social media technology.

“Empowering and engaging citizens is absolutely essential to clean water in this country, and the Riverview app is a fantastic tool for spurring grass-roots stewardship of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters,” Nancy Stoner, a top EPA water official, said in a statement.

To demonstrate how important direct contact with waterways is to spurring conservation efforts, and to raise awareness for the launch of the Riverview app, clean water advocates from Below the Surface and Orange County’s Paddle with a Purpose recently completed a weeklong, 70-mile trip down the San Diego coastline. The “Trestles to TJ” tour started near the border of San Diego and Orange counties, and it finished near the mouth of the Tijuana River in South County.

It’s not yet clear whether the Riverview app will be compatible on all device platforms or where to download it, but we’ll let you know when we find out.

Photo credit: hermanturnip/Flickr