Our mission is to help our state agencies share data in an easy,
cost-effective, and interoperable way.

Whether addressing population growth, national security, drought, climate change, or meeting our growing energy needs, questions surrounding water availability in the West will only increase and become more important in the coming years. To address this growing concern, the Western States Water Council (WSWC), began a cooperative effort to address a need for greater access to information from state water agencies with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the DOE National Labs (led by the Sandia National Lab), and the Western Federal Agency Support Team (WestFAST). Called the Regional Transmission and Energy Planning study, or RTEP for short, the team developed methods and techniques to estimate current and future regional water availability and water demands. The results were also incorporated into models for long-range energy transmission planning used by the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

The results of the study published by Sandia, Energy and Water in the Western and Texas Interconnects, highlighted the difficulty accessing and creating comparable metrics from state water agency data related to water administration and planning. To address this difficulty, and to create a framework where states could share data with each other and the public in a more streamlined way, the WSWC initiated the Water Data Exchange or WaDE program. The WaDE program seeks to provide better access to water allocation, supply, and demand data that are maintained by state and other governmental agencies by standardizing vocabularies and data schemas, and then unifying the effort through a data discovery portal. Through collaboration with WestFAST, the WSWC will also work with the various federal agencies that comprise WestFAST to develop standard methods for accessing federal data that support state-federal planning efforts and are important components to water supply estimates.

Our goals are to:

  • Assess and work to address water data gaps and challenges with our members, bringing a regional perspective to the table.

  • Provide a framework for showing existing data, while addressing those gaps (e.g., making recommendations for spatial/temporal adjustments that would help regionally)

  • Develop and maintain a framework for states to share their data, including a Central Catalog of datasets and a discovery portal.

  • Assist with finding resources for WaDE implementation, provide guidance and assistance through all phases of WaDE deployment.

  • Work with federal agencies and others to encourage sharing of important datasets in machine-readable, interoperable, and standardized formats.

  • Provide advocacy and outreach for “open water data” principles. Work with others who are interested in sharing environmental resource datasets.


The WaDE program is based on an expansive survey of state water agency programs and capabilities. The survey revealed common program elements and products, but also challenges with data integration.

Western State Water Program Capabilities Assessment Survey & Report

Click here for more about the report and maps of state capabilities.

The data collected by states, how they collect it, and how they store it is highly variable. As a foundational step, a survey was issued by the State Capabilities Assessment Workgroup to all WSWC members to determine common elements between state water planning programs, IT capabilities, preferred platforms, and challenges to aggregating disparate datasets. The survey provided a comprehensive inventory of state curated datasets, and served to highlight both the similarities and differences between programs. The results were collated into a report, with an extensive data and methodology inventory in the appendix, a short presentation that serves as a visual executive summary, and a series of related maps that portray the current status of state water planning programs.

Because of spatial, temporal, and methodological differences used by the states, the data shared in WaDE do not present a regional, comparable picture of water supply and use in the West. Now that data are flowing within the WaDE Portal, the WSWC and its member states can begin to address how to migrate state agency workflows to include more similar products. They can also begin to make recommendations on policies and procedures that will need to be put into place within their states to support such an integrated, westwide view of water.


We are grateful to work with such amazing partners within the states. Thank you for sharing your data.