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 projects are assigned to one or more organizations. Information stored in the Catalog about each station includes where it is located, what it monitors, its period of record (beginning and end dates of data collection), how often data are collected, and other details.
Information stored about each project includes the name(s) of the organization(s) that sponsored/initiated it, contact information, a link to the data collected (if available), 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.
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 or organizations. Similarly, you can find all stations associated with a particular project or projects.
- What? You can use the Search and Map tools 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, or water resource, for example).
- When? The Search and Map tools allow 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 established it hoped to learn from the data collected.
Once you have identified a list of monitoring stations that are of interest, you may download their information (metadata) in one of several formats. Data tables may be downloaded in tab-delimited (.txt file) or comma-separated (.csv file) format. These files may be read with text editors or spreadsheet/data analysis programs. Mapped data may be downloaded in Keyhole Markup Language format (.kml file), readable by Google Earth and other geographical information viewers.
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, hydrological and biological data will also be 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: Probably not, but your help is still needed to check 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/WINS) 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: 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: Yes. 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.
- Q: Why are some Catalog entries flagged?
A: Many of the metadata records used to populate the Catalog's database initially were "harvested" from other databases which do not have precisely the same set of metadata fields. Every effort was made to normalize these metadata, but some entries still may be missing information in required fields or have out-of-bounds values. These entries are flagged to help the project team responsible for the station to identify those stations that need correction or supplementary information.