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WELCOME TO THE WATER DATA EXCHANGE (WADE) PORTAL

How much water is there? What is its quality? How is it currently being used? Improving our water data infrastructure, quality, and availability is one of the country’s most pressing challenges, but it is one that will enable us to more sustainably manage our most precious resource. To address this challenge, the Western States Water Council (WSWC) aimed to formulate a strategy and to develop a framework for its member states to begin to share important water supply, water use, and water administration datasets with each other, with federal partners, and with the public, called the Water Data Exchange.

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A PRINCIPLES-BASED APPROACH TO SHARING DATA

Taking a principles-based approach, the Council has sought to articulate and put into action its vision for sharing water data. These principles include:

  1. Making transparency, openness, discoverability, and accessibility the default for public water data, while also ensuring the highest levels of security and privacy for stakeholders where needed.
  2. Whenever possible, sharing data using developed standards and machine-readable formats, including thoroughly documented metadata, which will promote interoperability, regional analyses, and user flexibility. And,
  3. Taking a federated approach where data-producers maintain control over and responsibility for their information. This allows them the freedom to share what they wish (or not) at any point in time through the WaDE portal.
A COLLABORATIVE ACHIEVEMENT

Since 2012, the Council has been laying the foundation for an effective program. This includes the mundane tasks of surveying and outreach to data providers, procuring additional resources for states who needed assistance, forming partnership to oversee the funds and other governance, development of the WaDE code and application, extensive assistance for implementation with state partners, as well as ongoing maintenance and updates. It’s not glamorous work, but cumulatively it represents a tremendous step forward in not only the data-sharing and publishing practices within the states, but the in the way we value the information we have concerning our resources. We are starting to think of water data beyond its limited and specific mission, and beginning to see the limitless value of high-quality data shared in a way that is easily discoverable and accessible.

 Comprised of a majority of WSWC state members, the current WaDE portal is an ambitious start. Apart from the data themselves, WSWC hopes that WaDE will be a role-model project for collaboration and partnership, and that it will become a key source of information that can effectively inform the thinking and strategic approach of policy and decision-makers in the West.