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Water quality data for national-scale aquatic research: The Water Quality Portal

February 15, 2017

Aquatic systems are critical to food, security, and society. But, water data are collected by hundreds of research groups and organizations, many of which use nonstandard or inconsistent data descriptions and dissemination, and disparities across different types of water observation systems represent a major challenge for freshwater research. To address this issue, the Water Quality Portal (WQP) was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council to be a single point of access for water quality data dating back more than a century. The WQP is the largest standardized water quality data set available at the time of this writing, with more than 290 million records from more than 2.7 million sites in groundwater, inland, and coastal waters. The number of data contributors, data consumers, and third-party application developers making use of the WQP is growing rapidly. Here we introduce the WQP, including an overview of data, the standardized data model, and data access and services; and we describe challenges and opportunities associated with using WQP data. We also demonstrate through an example the value of the WQP data by characterizing seasonal variation in lake water clarity for regions of the continental U.S. The code used to access, download, analyze, and display these WQP data as shown in the figures is included as supporting information.

Publication Year 2017
Title Water quality data for national-scale aquatic research: The Water Quality Portal
DOI 10.1002/2016WR019993
Authors Emily K. Read, Lindsay Carr, Laura A. DeCicco, Hilary Dugan, Paul C. Hanson, Julia A. Hart, James Kreft, Jordan S. Read, Luke Winslow
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70181999
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of Water Information