Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) can be lengthy, complex documents. A typical EIA might contain 250 pages of text, 10-20 color figures, 30-40 tables, and 5-10 lengthy appendixes. These documents quickly become cumbersome for the reader. In addition, pages may easily be lost or damaged. Printing and binding costs for complex EIAs are expensive (hundreds of dollars per copy), and often limit distribution.
To help solve these problems, Walsh Environmental Scientists and Engineers Inc. (WALSH) produces large EIA documents in hypertext markup language (HTML) on a CD-ROM for easy viewing and distribution. The final product contains the entire document, tables, figures, appendices, and laboratory analytical data. Internal links allow the reader to access a figure or table from the place it is mentioned in the text, in the same way one navigates a web page. A linked table of contents enables the user to click on any section, table, or figure and jump to that position.
Reproduction of CD-ROMs is inexpensive (about $25 per copy) and fast, so the EIA can be widely distributed. In addition, data on CD-ROM are virtually indestructible and cannot be altered. Physical storage requirements for CDs are less than for the 4" binders used for printed copies. Another benefit is that once an EIA has been produced in HTML format on CD-ROM, it can be easily transferred to a web server and accessed by people anywhere in the world through the Internet. If desired, password access can protect confidential information.