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Introduction & Mon/Tues response

As Director of Information Services for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, I am involved in addressing questions that deal mostly with watershed health, which includes the big picture -- i.e, the Chesapeake Bay's health, and the local picture -- i.e, the health of local streams/rivers. What information do people want from EPA and state agencies? In our experience, they want LOCAL water quality information, including monitoring data that they can understand and put into perspective. Interpretation of data is often a missing link. Some people access our Chesapeake Regional Information Service (CRIS) to find out what's going on in their respective waterway and how can they get involved. We also get questions that don't necessarily deal with an EPA or state agency-specific areas but rather generic questions about how to deal with controversial land use issues, what kind of conservation practices to employ on private land -- pretty much covering the whole gamut of personal stewardship. I'm not really qualified to answer how well EPA and other national and state resources meet these needs, except to say that each agency's website has added tremendously to the public's access of information. The challenge appears to be how to help the public navigate the hundreds of websites and is there a way to streamline people's specific searches.
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