Healthy Waters for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region: Regional Geographic: Mapping Our Waters for Environmental Protection

The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Healthy Waters Blog” highlights water issues in the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC) and seeks to bring new voices and perspectives to the EPA’s work in restoring and protecting water resources.  This entry discusses how geography informs EPA activities as the agency works to protect the waters of the region for human health and the environment.

Christine_Catanese_Pic1.JPGAt the EPA, we use geography all the time.  We have maps hanging all over the walls of our offices, showing the locations of wastewater facilities, delineations of watersheds, and impaired streams, just to name a few.  Very rarely does a day go by when I don’t use a map of some kind to do my job.  In fact, I would say that EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment requires us to spatially understand how human populations interact with their environment.

So, how does the EPA use geography?  Here are just a few highlights:

•    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (or “stimulus” bill) provided additional funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which are administered by EPA to the Mid-Atlantic States. These funds are then allocated to local projects like updating aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Visit the infrastructure website and click your state on the map on the bottom right side of the page to see maps of Recovery Act-funded projects.  Project locations are flagged on the map with balloons or pins according to the type of project (Clean Water, Drinking Water, projects with a green component) occurring at each location.  This map also includes a short description of each project and the funds allocated to it.  Maybe there is a project going on near you that you didn’t even know about!   You can also visit the EPA Recovery site to see maps with summaries of funding and job creation associated with Recovery Act projects.

•    As we’ve blogged about in previous posts, EPA is in the process of setting a strict “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Just one look at a map of the Chesapeake Bay will tell you how large this clean-up effort is; the drainage basin of the bay itself is over 64,000 square miles and encompasses at least part of six different states.  A number of public meetings were held to get public comments on the new nutrient standards that are being set for the Bay; to facilitate attendance at these meetings for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, EPA created a map of meeting locations. The map has information on dates and times as well as driving directions through Google maps. Click the “Fall 2010 Public Meetings” tab.

Continue reading the EPA’s full text on their blog!

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