GIS standards

We encourage grant recipients to embrace specific geospatial data standards to assure compatibility. We encourage sharing of geospatial data among a variety of users.

Guidelines for creating and accessing GIS data under Ecology grant programs


We use Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and procedures to help accomplish our mission to protect the land, air, and water of the state.

This technology is widely used in support of the agency’s geographic-based approach to environmental management. We strive to coordinate GIS data development under our grants and to insure compatibility with established agency standards.

Spatial data standards

In an effort to better assure compatibility and encourage sharing of geospatial data among a variety of users, both public and private, we encourage grant recipients to embrace these standards.

We use GIS software from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI):

  • ArcGIS Version 10.x
  • ArcGIS Server 10.x
  • ArcSDE 10.x

Data submitted to us should be in ESRI, shapefile, ESRI Personal Database, or File Geodatabase format.

The agency uses the following data storage and import standards:

  • Horizontal datum: NAD 83 HARN*
  • Vertical datum: NAVD-88**
  • Project system: Lambert Conic Conformal
  • Coordinate system: Washington State Plane Coordinates
  • Coordinate zone: South (or zone-appropriate is not statewide)
  • Coordinate units: U.S. Survey Feet
  • Accuracy standard: +/-40 feet or better
  • Vector import format: ArcExport E00 file, Shapefile, File Geodatabase, Personal Geodatabase
  • Raster import format: TIFF, BIL/BIP/BSQ, ESRI Grid, ERDAS Imagine
  • Metadata: Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), Metadata Content Standards*
* More information is available on the Washington State Geospatial Program Office.
** Read more information about Ecology's vertical datum standard.

Our databases should support the following spatial features and address methods throughout agency level database systems. This structure will insure: consistency, understanding, and ease of integration between both tabular and geospatial data systems.

A spatial address refers to the geographic point location of an object, and is used to define the point of that object or "Ecology thing" that information is being collected about (e.g., well, spill, facility).

The standard of point data collection method is in latitude-longitude degrees, minutes, seconds. This allows one standard way to collect and report information within the agency. This suggested format will provide the agency with greater payback in uniformity, ease of data comparison and compilation, and lessen the storage of redundant data.

To discuss the usage of other standards or for further data sharing and compatibility information, please contact:

Christina Kellum
GIS Supervisor
(360) 407-6088

Accessing Ecology GIS Information

We have assembled or acquired numerous statewide data sets to help depict the diverse natural and cultural environment. Ecology’s spatially referenced information is arranged according to ISO 19115 Topic Categories. These categories include:

• farming • biota • boundaries • climateMeteorologyAtmosphere
• economy • elevation • environment • geoscientificinformation
• health • imageryBaseMapsEarthCover • intelligenceMilitary
• inlandWaters • location • oceans • planningCadastre
• society • structure • transportation • utilitiesCommunication

Ninety-seven statewide geospatial data sets, and associated data descriptions, are available for internal agency use. Fifty-seven of these coverages are available for external distribution. All data sets at Ecology are received and distributed in ArcGIS file geodatabase format.

Data coordination assistance is available to all grant recipients. We can help you locate data sets at Ecology or ones that may exist within other organizations. Forward your data inquiries to Rich Kim at (360) 407-6121. If you are interested in our online data listing, view our Geographic Information System (GIS) Data page.