By Jeffery Robichaud
For more years than I can count, accessing water quality data has been a somewhat arduous task. Many different organizations have data. Unfortunately this data is usually in different formats and requires different methods to access. It is tough for a scientist to get the information they need, let alone for a school kid wanting to find out information about the creek down the hill.
It hasn’t received a lot of publicity but the US Geological Survey and the United States Environmental Protection Agency through a partnership with the National Water Quality Monitoring Council have brought the two biggest sources of water quality data, EPA’s Storage and Retrieval (STORET) system and USGS’s National Water Information System (NWIS) together into one place, the Water Quality Portal. In November of last year the system provided access to over 200 million records at over 5 million locations throughout the US.
At the portal you can browse for data based on numerous queries, download data in multiple formats (including kml for use in Google Earth), and even take advantage of web services using RESTlike (REpresentational State Transfer) techniques, so that your own applications can consume the data.
Go ahead and give the Water Quality Portal a test drive. It even provides a link to show you how to upload your own water quality data using EPA’s WQXWeb template. Next week I hope to show you a similar effort we have going on in the Kansas City area.
About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.