New U.S. Water Quality Portal #waterquality

A new Water Quality Portal [waterqualitydata.us] was released by agencies of the U.S. federal government on May 1.

What is the WQP:

The Water Quality Portal (WQP) is a cooperative service sponsored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) that integrates publicly available water quality data from the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) and the EPA STOrage and RETrieval (STORET) Data Warehouse.

The EPA water quality data originate from the STORET Data Warehouse, which is the EPA’s repository of water quality monitoring data collected by water resource management groups across the country. Organizations, including states, tribes, watershed groups, other federal agencies, volunteer groups and universities, submit data to the STORET Warehouse in order to make their data publicly accessible. For more information about STORET, see the STORET Home Page.

The USGS water quality data originate from the NWISWeb Database. The database contains current and historical water data from more than 1.5 million sites across the nation and is used by state and local governments, public and private utilities, private citizens, and other federal agencies involved with managing our water resources. For more information on what data are available and how NWIS data are mapped to the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) format, visit NWIS Water Quality Web Services.

More from the USGS:

The Portal provides a single, user-friendly web interface showing where water quality information is available from federal, state, tribal and other water partners. It reduces the burden to data users searching, compiling, and formatting water monitoring data for analysis, and provides scientists, policy-makers, and the public with a single web interface to query data stored in STORET and NWIS.

Data users can choose from a variety of filters including geographic and sample parameters, to narrow down the dataset by state, county, organization, watershed, and sites of interest. Downloaded data can be served out in comma-separated, tab-separated, MS Excel, Keyhole Markup Language (KML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) file formats.

The Portal utilizes the common nomenclature known as the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) to retrieve data from NWIS and STORET and publish it in a consistent format. The Portal is designed to support additional data sources that are integrated with the WQX template. EPA offers a web-based data entry tool called WQX-Web that enables data owners to upload their data for use by the Portal.

Future enhancements to the portal include the development of the Portal’s interface, web services, and compatibility with popular mapping tools.

Whiskey, water, and Mark Twain

If you follow water issues long enough, especially in the West, you’ll hear or read: “Mark Twain said, ‘Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over’.” And almost as often, someone else will say that Mark Twain probably didn’t say it, because no one has found it in his writings.

Finally, there’s a bit of new information on this topic. The publisher of Twainquotes.com, using Google Books, seems to have tracked it down to the 1960s. (Twain, of course, died in 1910.)

More from Alex Breitler

Via JFleck

More water literature

California water resources and Internet Archive

I have a lot of bulletins from the California Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) in my library. And like any forward thinking librarian, I want to provide my users with links in the catalog to electronic versions of the reports whenever possible. But why scan something when somebody else has done it first?

I knew that UC Davis’ library was adding e-copies of DWR reports to the Internet Archive, so I checked to see if they had done the ones I had. When I got to the California Water Resources collection there, I discovered a nice surprise: they have an RSS feed. So now I don’t have to keep checking back all the time; I can just follow the RSS feed. (It looks as if they do more scanning in the summer, naturally.)

OK, you’re thinking, that’s great if I’m interested in California water. Get this: the Internet Archive has almost three million texts. There’s a good chance there’s a collection that will interest you and that you’ll want to follow what they post.

Southern Africa

The British Geological Survey has posted an archive of grey literature on Southern African groundwater. Grey literature (or gray literature) is documents other than books or journal articles. It includes conference papers, pamphlets, unpublished reports, theses and dissertations, etc. It doesn’t always end up in libraries (or on the Internet), and even if it does, it doesn’t always get cataloged properly. In other words, it’s lost for all intents and purposes. I think this archive will be a real service to the people and nations of Southern Africa, who might not otherwise find this information about their own region.

(H/T Aquadoc at WaterWired)

Water Updates: Clean Water Act guidance, climate change, water libraries

Clean Water Act guidance

The EPA has issued proposed guidance under the Clean Water Act, including a definition of “Waters of the United States.”

Some say the EPA shouldn’t issue guidance without going through the whole rulemaking process. However, recent Supreme Court decisions have muddied the waters, so to speak.

Climate Change

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has published two new reports on climate change and Western water. Many news reports wrote about one report or the other, but there are actually two:

A sampling of the news coverage:

The editorial writers at the Las Vegas Review Journal certainly didn’t read the report (or even their own reporter’s news article) when they wrote River’s problems can’t be blamed on global warming. I guess the Bureau of Reclamation is filled with hippie treehuggers.

Don’t want people to worry about greenhouse gases? Just stop publishing the data!

On the other hand, if you are concerned about climate change, and you’re involved in resource management, say, or local government, check out the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE). It’s filled with advice, case studies, directories of contacts, etc.

Water Libraries

UCLA will catalog a noted conservationist’s collection, Los Angeles Times, May 1.

When Ellen Stern Harris died of cancer five years ago at age 76, the pugnacious conservationist left a vast and chaotic collection of letters, research files, photos and publications.

Last Wednesday, a UCLA van pulled up to a chilly storage warehouse in West Los Angeles to pick up 28 cartons of materials, carefully organized by an archivist hired through Craigslist. Over the coming months, UCLA plans to digitize the contents to make them available online to scholars and others interested in California’s political and environmental history.

Considered to be the mother of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act of 1972, Harris was an environmental activist long before the avocation became fashionable. When The Times named her Woman of the Year in 1969, columnist Art Seidenbaum called her “a modern kind of earth mother who fights for land, sea and air…a state official, a community organizer and a most uncommon scold.”

The Water Resources Center Archives is settling in at the University of California, Riverside, and California State University San Bernardino

Banned in Sacramento

According to On the Public Record, this and other blogs on the subject of water are blocked at the California Resources Agency. It’s not really just water blogs; apparently some heavy hand in the IT dept. is blocking any site with blogspot, wordpress, typepad, and livejournal in the URL, so I can’t take it personally that they are blocking my blog. However, I am flattered that OtPR lists this blog as one that state government workers should have access to. OtPR explains why they might want to read water blogs.

A reading list on California water

Once again, we can explore the links between California water and the written word. A graduate student asks On the Public Record for reading recommendations. She gives them in An innocent lost. The comments from readers are well worth reading, too. Note to the squeamish: frequent opinions and the occasional four-letter word will be found in the post.