EPA will buttress environment site

EPA will buttress environment site

The Environmental Protection Agency by October plans to add data about local conditions from all 50 states to its Window to My Environment site.

The new information from state environmental agencies will give the public access to detailed environmental data by reaching through the site to multiple databases, Debra Villari, associate director of the Office of Environmental Information's Information Access Division, said last week at the E-Gov conference in Washington.

The site, at www.epa.gov/epahome/whereyoulive.htm, began two years ago as a pilot for EPA's Region 3, which covers the Mid-Atlantic. Since then, EPA and contractor Science Applications International Corp. have taken the site national and added more state and federal environmental data. So far, a couple of dozen states have provided information for the site, Villari said.

The geographic information system presents data about any area of the country, with layers for topological and water data from the Geological Survey; air quality, hazardous material site and toxic materials data from EPA; flood zone data from the Federal Emergency Management Administration; and state data.

One feature of the site is a link to local environmental organizations that lets users find information about joining or forming organizations to help clean up watersheds or monitor environmental conditions. The site also includes demographic data about specified areas.

SAIC vice president Dalroy M. Ward said his company also is working to make the site accessible to handicapped individuals. But finding ways to make GIS data accessible has proven tricky because each map includes a great deal of information that can be changed in several ways, he and Villari said.

The site's managers plan to provide a toll-free telephone service so visually impaired users can talk to someone who will help them find needed information.

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