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Assignment 1

The Hamilton County Environmental Priorities Project or HCEEP was a group formed by concerned citizens in Hamilton County Ohio who wished to explore the possible causes of environmental degradation within their community and its effects on resident's health and the environment. The group's main focus was water quality within Hamilton County. They understood however, that there were many contributing factors that affected the water sources within their community. To add to the complexity Hamilton County includes the very urban Cincinnati along with 34 other municipalities that are surrounded by rural land.   To create a thorough analysis and eventually create an effective strategy for combating environmental degradation within Hamilton County, the group split up into sub-groups that focused on specific environmental "stressors" such as chemical or biological pollutants in streams. Next the groups searched for possible "causes" for the pollutants being found in the water source such as a nearby landfill or perhaps storm sewage back flow.  Finally they tried to analyze the effect these initial "stressors" had on the environment and residents quality of life. When all of the sub groups convened it became quite obvious that much of their data was connected or affected by another groups studied environmental "stressor."  Researchers Michael Sweeney, Thomas Quinn, Barbara Quinn, and Richard Allen were asked by HCEEP to use the data the groups had collected and create useful maps for all members of the HCEEP to be able to understand and analyze.  The researchers used GIS to incorporate all the findings of the individual groups to create an overall helpful tool for studying water degradation in Hamilton County as a whole.  The data used to create the GIS maps was collected over a two year period from 1996 to 1998 from various sources including USEPA, Ohio EPA, FEMA, Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), Cincinnati and Hamilton County Health Departments as well as local municipal records and personal interviews. They also used CAGIS as a foundation to generate the maps needed.  A more thorough explanation of the HCEEP's goals and methods as well as the GIS maps used by them can be found on their web site.    These maps allowed the HCEEP to evaluate numerous aspects all at once within Hamilton County such as the topography, floodplains, water, landfills, toxic release inventory sites, wells and many other themes. The GIS maps created allowed for better communication among the various sub-groups that comprised HCEEP which in turn led to useful overall analysis among all the HCEEP members.  Thus the group was able to form hypothesis about probable causes of environmental degradation within the county that were not to narrow sighted but rather addressed the issues from numerous angles.  This in turn has led to more effective policy making in an attempt to combat the causes of water degradation within Hamilton County.

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