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Conference to Highlight New Tool for Predicting Environmental and Human Health Impacts

Release Date: 2/21/2003
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA EPA has developed a computer tool for planners to evaluate on the screen the impacts of today’s environmental decisions 20 years from now, without the waiting. If decision-makers are not satisfied with the results, they can use the web-based system to compare the implications of other choices.

This tool will be available to the public for the first time at the ReVA (EPA's Regional Vulnerability Assessment) conference in Philadelphia. The conference will be held at the Valley Forge Hilton in King of Prussia, Pa. starting Tuesday, May 13 - May 15. To reserve a room call 800-TRY VF PA. To register for the conference, go to

ReVA maps current conditions of forest productivity, air quality, groundwater quality, water quality, aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, human health, and fiscal health in the mid-Atlantic states. Then, based on the environmental decision proposed it can forecast the effects that could occur by altering resource extraction, land use, climate change, pollution and pollutants, non-indigenous invasive species, and population.

The web-based maps are created from monitoring data from many agencies incorporating the latest developments in remote sensing, landscape ecology, spatially-explicit modeling, and ecological risk assessment to give the clearest projections possible.

This type of ecological forecasting is like predicting weather. Short term forecasts are quite reliable in a small area, but longer-term predictions are more difficult and require analysis from a broader geographic perspective. ReVA creates that broader perspective to give decision makers realistic predictions. ReVA operates at regional, and occasionally local, scale but information from the regional scale can inform decisions at every scale.

ReVa encourages smart growth and sustainable development. Since most decisions for change are based on multiple criteria, allows the user weigh criteria for what they see is most important. For example, if protecting a community’s water supply is the top priority, users would weigh that priority over all others.

Then, ReVA tools will map the projected results of the proposed land use change on water supply and all delineate the the areas that would be effected. Planners and environmental decision makers can select other priorities and compare the economic, human health, and environmental results.

This decision making tool is tailored specifically for the mid-Atlantic region which comprises Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. But, it has application for the entire nation.

The conference will also address the region’s top environmental priorities looking at current conditions and future alternatives. The two day conference will be organized into assessing the impacts of development on watershed health and sensitive populations, using what we've learned to project trends and improve monitoring, and developing strategies to optimize the future.

ReVA is a program within EPA’s Office of Research and Development, it involves EPA Region 3 as part of the Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA) with collaboration from U.S. Forest Service, USGS, and TVA.