Development of Long Island Water Quality Integrated Data System (LIQWIDS) - User interface and web services in support of collaboration under the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan(LINAP)

Science Center Objects

PROBLEM There are more than 60 organizations and agencies collecting water-quality data on Long Island. The types of database management that are used to store and archive regulatory and non-regulatory data vary from paper forms to spreadsheets to State and Federal databases, and there is minimal communication between these systems. As a result, those interested in analyzing data may be unaw...


There are more than 60 organizations and agencies collecting water-quality data on Long Island. The types of database management that are used to store and archive regulatory and non-regulatory data vary from paper forms to spreadsheets to State and Federal databases, and there is minimal communication between these systems. As a result, those interested in analyzing data may be unaware of what data exist and how those data can be obtained without a Freedom of Information Law request. A unified data sharing system that provides multiple levels of sensitive and non-sensitive data storage and dissemination is needed. This system should link the various databases and interact through web services to provide comprehensive, open-source analytical tools. The system would directly benefit ongoing efforts such as Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP), the Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection (LICAP), and other State and local environmental and human health initiatives.
Throughout Long Island, water-quality data necessary for making important resource management and regulatory decisions exist in various forms and with different degrees of accessibility. Data collected by Federal, State, and local government agencies are mostly publicly available; however, not all are readily accessible via an electronic database/repository that can be remotely queried. Water-quality and quantity data collected by water purveyors are also available, though some data are sensitive and are not available to the public. Academic and community groups also generate data, but these are typically stored locally and results only presented in scientific literature and white papers in summary. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), through the LINAP, has identified the need for single portal by which users, both public and regulatory, can access all available data via interactive mapper and further interrogate the data with web-based tools (for example, trends analysis). And while portals such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Quality Portal (WQP) exist, sensitive data collected by purveyors and agencies (such as groundwater well locations) cannot be omitted or hidden from public access. Therefore, a robust, multi-faceted data sharing system has been suggested. Support for NYSDEC creation of a data sharing system for Long Island can be tailored based on needs of stakeholders and planned data usage. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) New York Water Science Center (NYWSC) and USGS Web Informatics and Mapping (WIM, can help support creation of this system. The support could entail development of a cloud-based multi-user relational database and a robust suite of web services and front-end web tools. These products would leverage open-source technologies for both input/output of data and for interpretation and analytics of data and results. In addition, tools would be provided for sharing the data stored through an existing federal data sharing tool such as the EPA Water Quality Exchange (WQX, The USGS NYWSC has been encouraging local partners to provide public access to non-sensitive data through the WQX, which is served by the Water Quality Portal (WQP, interface.
Development of the water-quality data collaboration system will create a centralized water-quality data portal with a map-based user interface to allow NYSDEC, Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC), officials from Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and all other interested stakeholders to share ambient water-quality monitoring data. The system will have a secured portion that allow all data contributors to upload and download data with ease. The system will also have a public facing website that could show water quality trends, predicted water quality results based on models, and a map showing all the management strategies, practices and water quality projects completed and in-progress across Long Island.


      Under the proposed collaboration, web services will be developed by the USGS and will serve as the primary interface for the various water-quality databases. The Long Island Water Quality Integrated Data Sharing (LIQWIDS) system would provide a one-stop portal for water-quality data collected in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The project will initially focus on compiling information on databases storing nitrogen data collected in both surface water and groundwater. In order to identify all relevant sources of data and incorporate components necessary to develop tools to address the desired management topics, the USGS will work with the NYSDEC and members of the LIRPC. (For a partial list of data owners, see appendix.)
Database inventory
      Water-quality data will be pulled from existing databases through web services and dynamically linked, rather than incorporated, into a new database as to avoid duplicating databases. In cases where monitoring data without sensitive components/information exists but is not available through a web-service link (for example, Suffolk County Department of Health, Office of Ecology), the USGS will work with the EPA to provide training and assistance to get an account established in order to upload these data to WQX, which will allow LIQWIDS to access through an established link to WQP.
      For sensitive data that are not currently in a database with linkable services (for example, Nassau water purveyors), the USGS will create a database on the Department of Interior (DOI) Geoplatform cloud solutions ( and create an interface for interacting with the database. The LIQWIDS database will be designed to store, manage, and query most chemical and microbiological contaminants data, allowing resource managers to access data necessary for protecting supply and determining the best uses. Table- and field-based validation are enforced before any data can be inserted into the database to help quality-assure data entry. New data will be checked by automated validation steps to ensure completeness of record (data and metadata). Attributes in the LIQWIDS database will allow for select sensitive data and metadata to be flagged and not accessible via the public mapper and interface.
User interface
Once the initial database and sets of web services have been functionally developed for filtering and retrieving the data, a public-facing website that show trends and summary reports of water-quality and LINAP activities will be added. The system will have a GIS component to allow data and trends display link to a geographic location on a map. Upon completion of the development period, the services and associated mapper will be publicly accessible with a user interface that allows for data query and retrieval based on parameters identified by the NYSDEC and LIRPC. There will be a set of privileges associated with secured users. The User Interface will be a modern standards-compliant website for exploring LIQWIDS from multiple sources. Site would feature:
- Introduction and about content for the site/system
- Site user guide and optional FAQ section
- Interactive map for viewing the data sampling locations with explanation
- Multiple basemaps (for example, satellite, USGS national map)
- Thematic Data Layers
- Filters for selecting desired water-quality parameter(s) and site types
- Data download/export
Data analytics and tools
      The mapping interface relies on web services and allows simple visualization and analytics of database entries and filtering/sorting capabilities. Further interrogation of the data would be conducted through the following tools to better assist resource managers and the public interpret sets of data from sites or locations:
- Trends viewer  (for example, trends displayed using near real-time data through USGS SWTRENDS;
- Summary reports (for example, information about a site or group of sites and their corresponding summary statistics [max, min, mean] related to concentrations through time) 
      At this time, predictive models that project trends to help understand the effects of select actions, such as upgrades to onsite septic systems by querying relevant data through the platform, are not included because a better understanding of current data and system architecture needs to be developed. A model would be based on updated watershed boundaries for Long Island being developed by USGS and a spreadsheet model provided by NYSDEC or other organization. This component can be estimated in coordination with the NYSDEC and LIRPC as LIQWIDS is brought online.

Project Location by County

Suffolk County, NY, Richmond County, NY, New York (Manhattan) County (FIPS 36061), NY, Bronx County, NY, Queens County,NY, Nassau County, NY, Kings County, NY