*Updated 9/11/2013 Good news for river rats: National Atlas recently released an app called Streamer that provides a colorful representation of the nation's watersheds. Yes, the map even includes Southern California's network of rivers, washes, and arroyos (or flood control channels, depending on your point of view). National Atlas is touting the app as a way to imagine the downstream possibilities of dropping a stick into a river, or the origins of the water that flows through your campground. For Southern California's purposes it might be more fit for asking this question, "If I drop this Sausage Egg McMuffin wrapper in the gutter, where will it end up?" Or, conversely: "Where did the *193 tons of trash that Long Beach pulls out of mouth of the LA River each month come from?"
To use the app, click on the map at different points along rivers and streams and you can trace upstream and downstream of that point to discover some of the surprises to be found in the Southern California watershed network. For instance, did you know the start of the LA River, which flows to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, is just over the hill from Las Virgenes Creek, which finds the Pacific Ocean in Malibu?
It does, however, have limitations: the upstream and downstream graphics only generate from selected spots along the river or stream. That limitation means it's impossible to directly chart the effects of such typical experiences as, "If I send a protracted torrent of water down my Silver Lake street from a broken sprinkler, where will the water end up?" Also, many small streams are left off the map due to limitations of the scale of the map. Here's the explanation for that omission from Streamer: "[Our streams dataset's] scale is 1:1,000,000 - at which an inch on the display would roughly equal 15.8 miles on the land surface. At this level of detail, we can only include larger streams."
If you can't get enough maps of rivers and streams, also check out this incredibly detailed map of the nation's rivers and streams from artist Nelson Minar (just double click on the map to zoom in, and beware that the site was running a little slow when Curbed checked it this morning).
· Streamer Map [National Atlas]
· Rivers Map [Nelson Milner]
· Keeping trash from going with the flow [LA Times]