Guidelines for Creating and Accessing GIS Data

Under Ecology Grant Programs


The Washington State Department of Ecology uses Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and procedures as an aid in accomplishing its mission of protecting the land, air, and waters of the state. This technology is used widely in support of the agency’s geographic based approach to environmental management. Ecology strives to coordinate GIS data development under it’s grants and to insure compatibility with established agency standards.

For past history on Ecology's GIS standards, click here.

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, Ecology encourages grant recipients to embrace these standards.

The Department of Ecology uses GIS software from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI):

Data submitted to Ecology should be in ESRI ArcExport (E00), shapefile, ESRI Personal Database or File Geodatabase format.

The agency utilizes the follow data storage and import standards:

Horizontal Datum NAD 83 HARN*
Vertical Datum NAVD-88**
Projection System Lambert Conic Conformal
Coordinate System Washington State Plane Coordinates
Coordinate Zone South (or zone-appropriate if 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 Geographic Information Council (WAGIC) website at

** More information on Ecology's vertical datum standard is here (PDF Document).

Standards for Spatial Point Attributes Stored in Non-Spatial Databases

Ecology 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 pay back 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
Voice:  (360) 407-6088

Accessing Ecology GIS Information

The Department of Ecology has assembled or acquired numerous statewide data sets in order to help depict the diverse natural and cultural environment we live and work in. Ecology’s spatially referenced information is arranged according to “ISO 19115 Topic Catagories.”  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 ArcInfo export (.E00) or shapefile 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 data listing via the Internet, you can see our data webpage at:

Please note that there are also data links to other agencies below the data table on the page.

Page last revised:  Monday, August 07, 2017