American AEGIS
Physical and Earth Sciences
Jacksonville State University
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GLOSSARY

AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM


AFOs -- Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs generally congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures. Animal waste and wastewater can enter water bodies from spills or breaks of waste storage structures (due to accidents or excessive rain), and non-agricultural application of manure to cropland. AFOs that meet the regulatory definition of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) have the potential of being regulated under the NPDES permitting program.

Alppl--Coding for Alabama Populated Places derived from the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) of the USGS and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names at http://geonames.usgs.gov/gnishome.html.

CERCLA-- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act--commonly called Superfund.

CERCLIS-- All sites where releases or potential releases have been reported are listed in the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS)."

Dischargers--Release into streams

Drainage Basin--land area where precipitation runs off into streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations between two areas on a map, often a ridge. Large drainage basins, like the area that drains into the Mississippi River contain thousands of smaller drainage basins. Also called a "watershed."

FIPS--Federal Information Processing Standard

HSWA--Hazard and Solid Waste Amendments--1984, expanded RCRA

HUC--hydrologic unit code The United States is divided and sub-divided into successively smaller hydrologic units which are classified into four levels: regions, sub-regions, accounting units, and cataloging units. The hydrologic units are arranged within each other, from the smallest (cataloging units) to the largest (regions). Each hydrologic unit is identified by a unique hydrologic unit code (HUC) consisting of two to eight digits based on the four levels of classification in the hydrologic The first level of classification divides the Nation into 21 major geographic areas, or regions. These geographic areas contain either the drainage area of a major river, such as the Missouri region, or the combined drainage areas of a series of rivers, such as the Texas-Gulf region, which includes a number of rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico. Eighteen f the regions occupy the land area of the conterminous United States. Alaska is region 19, the Hawaii Islands constitute region 20, and Puerto Rico and other outlying Caribbean areas are region 21.
The second level of classification divides the 21 regions into 222 sub regions. A sub region includes the area drained by a river system, a reach of a river and its tributaries in that reach, a closed basin(s), or a group of streams forming a coastal drainage area.
The third level of classification subdivides many of the sub regions into accounting units. These 352 hydrologic accounting units nest within, or are equivalent to, the sub regions.
The fourth level of classification is the cataloging unit, the smallest element in the hierarchy of hydrologic units. [Efforts are underway to add further levels of subdivisions.] A cataloging unit is a geographic area representing part of all of a surface drainage basin, a combination of drainage basins, or a distinct hydrologic feature. These units subdivide the sub regions and accounting units into smaller areas. There are 2150 Cataloging Units in the Nation. [Cataloging Units sometimes are called "watersheds." See, for example, the EPA Surf Your Watershed at http://www.epa.gov/surf/ site.]

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC)--Watersheds are delineated by USGS using a nationwide system based on surface hydrologic features. This system divides the country into 21 regions, 222 sub regions, 352 accounting units, and 2,262 cataloguing units. A hierarchical hydrologic unit code (HUC) consisting of 2 digits for each level in the hydrologic unit system is used to identify any hydrologic area. The 6 digit accounting units and the 8 digit-cataloguing units are generally referred to as basin and sub-basin. It is defined as the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) and generally serves as the backbone for the country's hydrologic delineation. A watershed in Surf Your Watershed is the 8 digit-cataloging unit. http://water.usgs.gov/GIS/huc.html

Impaired Waters--- Water bodies that do not meet water quality standards. The Clean Water Act requires states to designate uses for their water bodies and to set water quality standards to reflect those uses. Under Section 303(d), states must submit to the EPA lists of waters not meeting the standards. They then must allocate pollutant loadings among dischargers that will bring the water body back into compliance with the standard. Water bodies are classified into four categories:
  1. Water bodies that do not meet the water quality criteria because of exceedance in one or more pollutants, thus requiring a TMDL to be developed;
  2. Water bodies that already have a TMDL, but are not meeting the set TMDL;
  3. Water bodies impaired by something other than a pollutant, like a fish barrier or dam, for which a TMDL is not required; and
  4. Water bodies for which the basic technology "minimums" would achieve water quality standards but have not yet been applied.
pH--a measure of the relative acidity or alkalinity of water. Water with a pH of 7 is neutral; lower pH levels indicate increasing acidity, while pH levels higher than 7 indicate increasingly basic solutions. View a diagram about pH at http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/phdiagram.html.

Nurseries--Attempts were made to map the large commercial plant nurseries with an abundance of plants that require repeated nutrients and watering, where runoff can occur to create extra nutrients into nearby waterways.

Point-source pollution--water pollution coming from a single point, such as a sewage-outflow pipe.

Power plants--These are the power plants that operate with fossil fuel. As such, they produce smoke stack emissions that can result in nutrients falling into the waters.

RCRA--Resource Conservation and Recovery Act--Enacted in 1976 as an amendment to the SWDA. To achieve the goals of RCRA, four programs were created: 1. Solid Waste; 2. Hazardous Waste; 3. Underground Storage Tanks; 4. Medical Waste. Sites this layer represents.

Reach Files--The USEPA Reach Files are a series of hydrologic databases of the surface waters of the continental United States and Hawaii. The Reach Files are organized by USGS Cataloging Units at http://water.usgs.gov/public/GIS/huc.html

River--A river is nothing more than surface water (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html#S) finding its way over land from a higher altitude to a lower altitude, all due to gravity. When rain falls on the land, it either seeps into the ground or becomes runoff(http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/runoff.html), which flows downhill into rivers and lakes, on its journey towards the seas. In most landscapes the land is not perfectly flat--it slopes downhill in some direction. Flowing water finds its way downhill initially as small creeks. As small creeks flow downhill they merge to form larger streams and rivers. Rivers eventually end up flowing into the oceans. If water flows to a place that is surrounded by higher land on all sides, a lake (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthlakes.html) will form. If man has built a dam to hinder a river's flow, the lake that forms is a reservoir.

RRA--Resource Recovery Act--1970, amends SWDA Non-point source (NPS) pollution--pollution discharged over a wide land area, not from one specific location. These are forms of diffuse pollution caused by sediment, nutrients, organic and toxic substances originating from land-use activities, which are carried to lakes and streams by surface runoff. Non-point source pollution is contamination that occurs when rainwater, snowmelt, or irrigation washes off plowed fields, city streets, or suburban backyards. As this runoff moves across the land surface, it picks up soil particles and pollutants, such as nutrients and pesticides.

Slaughter Operations--These are plants where animals are taken for slaughter and attempts were made to incorporate only the larger commercial operations and omit the smaller local community slaughter businesses. These larger plants can produce waste products that contain nutrients and bacteria.

Stream--a general term for a body of flowing water; natural water course containing water at least part of the year. In hydrology, it is generally applied to the water flowing in a natural channel as distinct from a canal.

Sod Farms--Attempts were made to locate the large commercial sod farms where sod is grown, stripped, and shipped, to be followed with fertilizing and re-growth. Frequent fertilizing can produce nutrient runoff. Also, these sod farms can have sediment runoff from storm water when the fields have been stripped.

Superfund Sites--A Superfund site is any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment. Aka CERCLA http://www.epa.gov

Surface water--water that is on the Earth's surface, such as in a stream, river, lake, or reservoir.

SWDA--Solid Waste Disposal Act--1965, primary purpose of improving solid waste disposal methods.

TRI--The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities reported annually by certain covered industry groups as well as federal facilities. This inventory was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and expanded by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. (more on "What Is TRI" and TRI Program Fact Sheet). According to an Alabama Department of Environmental Management press release, the latest report was derived from 554 Alabama facilities. When compared from the previous year's data 2002 TRI data documented several reductions in the "Onsite" Releases category including an 87% decrease in the pounds of materials disposed of via underground injection wells and a 14% reduction in total air emissions. 2. Toxic Release Inventory Numbers Available - As part of the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community "Right to Know" Act, industries that meet certain requirements must report to the states and EPA specific information about certain "reportable" chemicals that they release into the environment, treat, transfer or recycle. This information is called the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Alabama's 2002 TRI data is now available and accessible on the EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer. "There are tens of thousands of abandoned hazardous waste sites in our nation, and accidental releases occur daily. At the core of the Superfund program is a system of identification and prioritization that allows the most dangerous sites and releases to be addressed within the confines of limited Federal funding and human resources. ...The first step in the Superfund process is to identify abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

Tributary--a smaller river or stream that flows into a larger river or stream. Usually, a number of smaller tributaries merge to form a river. USGS -- The USGS stands as the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior. The USGS serves the Nation as an independent fact-finding agency that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The value of the USGS to the Nation rests on its ability to carry out studies on a national scale and to sustain long-term monitoring and assessment of natural resources. Because it has no regulatory or management mandate, the USGS provides impartial science that serves the needs of our changing world.

Wastewater--water that has been used in homes, industries, and businesses that is not for reuse unless it is treated.

Watershed--the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. ALSO, the land area that drains water to a particular stream, river, or lake. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations between two areas on a map, often a ridge. Large watersheds, like the Mississippi River basin contain thousands of smaller watersheds.

Water Treatment Plants--Waste water is used water. It includes substances such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps and chemicals. In homes, this includes water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Businesses and industries also contribute their share of used water that must be cleaned. Waste water also includes storm runoff. Although some people assume that the rain that runs down the street during a storm is fairly clean, it isn't. Harmful substances that wash off roads, parking lots, and rooftops can harm our rivers and lakes. Waste treatment plants process the water to clean it so it can be released to stream systems.

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