The Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council and the Data Sharing Network — A New Era for Data Sharing in Colorado

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by Barb Horn, Colorado Division of Wildlife and Alice Wood Conovitz, Integral Consulting

Do you have water quality data? Chances are, if you are reading the greenline, you or someone you know has a desktop full of water chemistry, biological, or physical data. Data is only meaningful when people can use it, so the dedicated participants in the Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council spent the past three years launching the Colorado Data Sharing Network.

The Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council serves as a statewide collaborative body, open to all, to help achieve effective collection, analysis and dissemination of water quality data, and monitoring information. The Council seeks to improve the linkage between the information needs of policy and decision makers with efforts to collect and assess data. The Council also promotes effective monitoring programs that include the components of goal identification, data collection, analysis, storage, retrieval, and reporting/dissemination of information. Council goals include:

    Provide a forum for effective communication, cooperation, collaboration, and documentation among individuals and organizations involved in monitoring.

  • Promote the development of collaborative and cost effective watershed-based monitoring strategies.
  • Promote the use of quality assurance procedures and protocols related to sample collection, analytical methods, assessment, data management, and dissemination
  • Provide strategic direction for a statewide structure for the acquisition, analysis, archiving, and dissemination of water-quality information

The Colorado Data Sharing Network (CDSN) is a collaborative project envisioned by the Council in 2004. The CDSN was formed to address many of the issues that have historically been barriers to effective sharing of water quality information in Colorado. CDSN products and services seek to satisfy reporting requirements for Colorado Non-Point Source project sponsors. Project results will also address top priorities echoed throughout the collective watershed management, assessment and monitoring community in Colorado. The aim of the CDSN is to leverage the Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council into a collective and resourceful voice for monitoring issues in the future. Partners associated with the CDSN project include EPA, the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, South Plate Coalition for Urban River Evaluation, and the Colorado Watershed Assembly.

CDSN products and services include:

  • One of the primary water quality data management systems to find and use Colorado water quality data.
  • A holistic data management system that supports and interactive web-based map, shares information about sampling locations, methods, objectives and ownership, easy data input and retrieval and provides simple data manipulations like summary statistics and graphics.
  • A data management system that meets requirements of the Colorado’s NPS Grant Program.
  • A data management system targeted at local data providers who need assistance, access to other’s data, or for their data to reach broader audiences.
  • Frequent local watershed monitoring data swaps and gatherings to share monitoring priorities and activities.
  • A flagship product and service for the Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council to establish and maintain a collective voice for monitoring and associated issues in the Colorado.

What is the CDSN made of?
The Data Sharing Network (DSN) has been live for some time and recently the team has updated their interactive map with new functions and capabilities (Figure 1). You can view the map at http://www.coloradowaterdata.org/.

Figure 1. The interactive CDSN map can be viewed at http://www.coloradowaterdata.org. Users can query station information and download water quality data directly from the map.

The CDSN will utilize EPA’s STORET database design, Excel standard templates and SIM (Storet Import Module) to input data. This includes meta-data as well as results. The web-based map is modified from EPA Region 10 ArcIMS application (interactive mapping tool). This system, along with data outputs and processing tools, will be available via the internet to facilitate access and usability of water quality data. This will ultimately result in reducing technical and fiscal barriers to effective data management and sharing. Via this system, any entity will be able to meet National STORET requirements OR retain the option to NOT upload to National STORET.

The system will contain all of National STORET data as well as other Colorado data. CDSN will initially load legacy data sets from a subset of past NPS projects, all present and future NPS projects and selected non-NPS projects.

ANY entity can load data at ANY time to the system by following the guidance and user support provided. Once these audiences have been reached, CDSN will help load other legacy data sources and expand and parameter coverage.

For more information about how you can use the Colorado Data Sharing Network, visit http://www.coloradowaterdata.org/ for a tutorial. You can also learn more on the Colorado Water Quality Monitoring Council website at http://www.coloradowaterquality.org/

, or by contacting project coordinators Lynn Padgett or Jeff Litteral at cwqmc@coloradowaterquality.org.