How to Use the Catalog
The basic unit of information in the Catalog is the monitoring station. Stations are associated with one or more projects, and each project is assigned to an organization. Information stored in the Catalog about each station includes where it is located, its period of record (beginning and ending dates of data collection), what projects use its data, and other details.
Information stored about each project includes the name of the organization that sponsored/initiated it, contact information, a link to the data collected (if available), what data is collected and at what frequency, activity dates, and information about the objectives and design of the project.
The geospatial database that contains the Catalog's metadata can be viewed and downloaded either in tabular form (data tables) or spatially (on a map).
To view the metadata in tabular form, choose the Browse or Search menu option.
To view the stations spatially, choose the Map menu option.
Both options provide browsing and searching tools and download options.
The Browse, Search and Map functions provided by the Catalog will allow you to answer these questions:
- Who? Using the Catalog's Browse, Search and Map tools, you can find all stations associated with a particular organization. With the Browse and Search tools, you can find all stations associated with a particular project or projects.
- What? You can use the Search tool to find all stations that are collecting a certain kind of data (nitrogen content, seagrass acreage, or water levels, for example).
- Where? While the interactive Map tool allows you easily to visualize where monitoring stations are located, the Search and Browse tools also allow you to identify stations by their location (by specifying county, basin, WBID, or water resource, for example).
- When? The Search tool allows you to search for stations based on the timing of data collection, by specifying a "period of record" and/or data collection frequency.
- Why? Each station is associated with one or more projects. By reviewing the description(s) of the project(s) associated with a station, you can discover what those who use its data hope to learn from it.
Once you have identified a list of monitoring stations that are of interest, you may download their information (metadata) in one of several formats. From the Search tool, data tables may be downloaded in tab-delimited (.txt file) or comma-separated (.csv file) format, readable by text editors or spreadsheet/data analysis programs, or in Keyhole Markup Language format (.kml file), readable by Google Earth and other geographical information viewers. At this time, Mapped data may be downloaded in comma-separated format only (.csv file).
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Will I be able to use the Catalog to get the "actual data"–the monitoring results?
A: Yes, in most cases. Where available, links to online sources of parametric data will be provided. If no link is available, contact information for the monitoring organization can be used to request the data from the source.
- Q: Is this just for water quality data?
A: No, metadata for hydrological and biological monitoring are also included.
- Q: My monitoring sites' data are already submitted to STORET, the EPA, and/or the Water Management District. Do I need to submit it to the Catalog?
A: Possibly not, but information about your project(s) is still needed, as well as your help checking the accuracy and completeness of the metadata that appears in the catalog, and correct it if necessary.
- Q: How often is the metadata updated?
A: Primary responsibility for providing updates lies with the project that established/uses each station. Whenever feasible, periodic automatic updates will be performed, using metadata from federal (EPA, USGS), state (DEP-STORET/WIN) and regional (Water Management District) databases. The frequency of these updates varies, depending on the source.
- Q: Can I send you a file containing my metadata?
A: Yes. Contact us and we will assist you in creating a properly-formatted file.
- Q: Is there an API (application program interface) for programmatically uploading metadata?
A: Not yet, but we hope to implement one in the future.
- Q: I already report station data/metadata to other agencies. Can I reuse the files I send them?
A: Possibly, if the files have the same or very similar fields and are in a format we support. Contact us for guidance.
- Q: Can volunteer water monitoring organizations participate?
A: Absolutely. The Catalog contains metadata from many different kinds of organizations—governments, educational and research institutions, and nonprofits that perform "citizen science" environmental monitoring as an educational or civic endeavor.
- Q: If my organization is not listed, can I still submit metadata?
A: Yes. Contact us so that we can add your organization to the database and provide you with login credentials.
- Q: Do you need metadata for sites that are not currently active?
A: Yes. Knowledge of the existence of sites with legacy data is useful for researchers who are investigating water resource trends.