Information Management

Ranger taking measurements near river.
Mary Shew collects a water sample at the Little River Falls at the Highway 35 Bridge in Little River Canyon National Preserve (Alabama)

NPS Photo


Protecting park aquatic resources from impairment requires ongoing data collection, analysis, communication, and archiving to demonstrate status and trends and provide a credible foundation for resource management. Data and information are vital organizational assets that must be managed properly to ensure the investment made in their collection and analysis was not squandered.

The Water Information Management Program supports parks and networks in the management and archiving of hydrologic data including database design, data management, and GIS applications. Program staff support systems to enable parks and networks to manage water quality and quantity data; facilitate archiving discrete water quality data in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) STORET Data Warehouse and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s (NWQMC) Water Quality Portal; recommend standards for hydrographic data sets; conduct water body and water quality inventories for parks; and help acquire digital hydrographic data.

Highlights and Accomplishments

Commercial off-the-shelf software, Aquatic Informatics’ Aquarius system for continuous time-series data and EarthSoft’s EQuIS system for discrete (i.e. less than daily) data, have been acquired to support servicewide water quality and quantity data management.

The servicewide, discrete water quality database (archived within the EPA STORET Data Warehouse and the NWQMC Water Quality Portal) now contains more than 9 million results for more than 1,600 characteristics from more than 52,000 monitoring locations in support of more than 1,200 different projects conducted in or near 273 units of the National Park System from 1891 to present. This represents one of the largest sources of data in the EPA’s STORET Data Warehouse and the NWQMC Water Quality Portal. These data are used by the states and EPA to determine whether waters are attaining state water quality standards under the Clean Water Act and by the NPS and others to monitor the status and trends of park aquatic ecosystems.

NPSTORET v.1.88 is a complete water quality database management system that allows users to enter information about their water quality monitoring projects, stations, metadata, and results in a Microsoft Access database suitable for parks, networks, watershed groups, and others. Users can generate reports, statistics, and graphics describing entered data. Data can be imported from a variety of data sources and formats. Data can also be exported in the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) format for upload to the EPA’s STORET Data Warehouse and the NWQMC’s Water Quality Portal or in EarthSoft’s NPS WQX electronic data deliverable format for import into EQuIS. Users can use their own water quality standards, display analytical results on maps, and perform trend analysis.

The Water Information Management Program has issued a series of Baseline Water Quality Data Inventory and Analysis Reports summarizing and documenting water quality conditions at 236 parks. These reports are all available in IRMA.

Program staff cooperated with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to help produce the high-resolution National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)—basically digital GIS maps of the nation’s surface water hydrography—for all subbasins containing national park units. This effort included incorporating enhanced NPS hydrography into NHD where available.

Program staff maintain a Hydrographic and Impairment Statistics (HIS) database that tracks servicewide hydrographic statistics (e.g. miles of rivers, acres of lakes, etc.), state Clean Water Act impairments, and state outstanding national resource water (ONRW) designations for strategic planning purposes.

Status and Future

Program staff continue to support the use of Aquarius for managing servicewide continuous water quality and quantity time-series datasets. The latest version of the Aquarius WebPortal was recently opened to provide NPS continuous data to the public. The NPS will be moving to the USGS-inspired update of Aquarius during 2018.

The NPS’ significant discrete water quality database has been migrated from EPA’s stand-alone, distributed STORET database to EarthSoft’s EQuIS system and program staff are in the process of establishing an automated data flow from EQuIS to the EPA STORET Data Warehouse and NWQMC Water Quality Portal through the Environmental Information Exchange Network via the WQX format. Once EQuIS is fully operational, parks and networks will be able to upload discrete water quality directly into EQuIS Enterprise and have it transfer automatically to the EPA STORET Data Warehouse and NWQMC Water Quality Portal.

NPSTORET development continues with the emphasis on supporting profile data, enhanced WQX and EQuIS compatibility, data correction, and incorporating new functionality requested by users.

Program staff continue to facilitate NHD stewardship while updating the HIS database with the latest hydrographic, ONRW, and state Clean Water Act information.

Contact the Information Management staff

Last updated: October 31, 2019