Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) is a multipurpose environmental analysis system for use by regional, state, and local agencies in performing watershed- and water-quality-based studies. It was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Water to address three objectives: To facilitate examination of environmental information; To support analysis of environmental systems; and To provide a framework for examining management alternatives. Because many states and local agencies are moving toward a watershed-based approach, the BASINS system is configured to support environmental and ecological studies in a watershed context. The system is designed to be flexible. It can support analysis at a variety using tools that range from simple to sophisticated. Developing TMDLs requires a watershed-based approach that integrates both point and nonpoint sources. BASINS can support this type of watershed-based point and nonpoint source analysis for a variety of pollutants. It also lets the user test different management options. BASINS makes watershed and water quality studies easier by bringing key data and analytical components 'under one roof.' Analysts can efficiently access national environmental information, apply assessment and planning tools, and run a variety of proven, robust nonpoint loading and water quality models. With many of the necessary components together in one system, the analysis time is significantly reduced, a greater variety of questions can be answered, and data and management needs can be more efficiently identified. BASINS takes advantage of recent developments in software, data management technologies, and computer capabilities to provide the user with a fully comprehensive watershed management tool. A geographic information system (GIS) provides the integrating framework for BASINS. GIS organizes spatial information so it can be displayed as maps, tables, or graphics. GIS provides
techniques for analyzing landscape information and displaying relationships.