Loading...

Follow Aquatic Informatics on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

This week, Aquatic Informatics welcomed Tokay Software to our growing family of digital water solutions, joining recent arrivals Linko and WaterTrax.

Read: Aquatic Informatics Expands Municipal Digital Water Portfolio

A proven leader in backflow prevention and cross-connection control management, Tokay is a natural extension of our platform. For our team, this partnership represents another critical step toward our mission – to protect life by providing open and timely water information.

The more we know about our water, ecosystems, and infrastructure, the better we can manage these resources. With our data-driven solutions, our customers are solving the problems linked to water-related diseases, at-risk ecosystems, pollution, and natural disasters.

Every day, we’re motivated by the urgent need to solve these challenges. That’s what unites our family of brands, and we know Tokay’s team joins us in this mission.

Thank you for continuing to trust our solutions. We look forward to continuing to build our digital water platform to serve your needs across the water cycle. Stay tuned!

Continue reading Welcoming Tokay Software to the Aquatic Informatics Team

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Strategic Acquisition of Tokay Software Strengthens Aquatic Informatics’ Position as the World’s Largest Water Data Management Company

Vancouver, Canada – May 29, 2019 – Aquatic Informatics, the global leader in water data management and analytics, is pleased to announce the strategic acquisition of Tokay Software, based in Delray Beach, Florida.

Aquatic Informatics offers solutions to streamline drinking water, wastewater, environmental data management, and regulatory compliance. The addition of Tokay to the company’s growing group of brands expands its solutions to include cross-connection control management and backflow prevention.

Tokay Software is a proven industry leader in preventing contaminants, such as sewage, pesticides, and heavy metals, from being introduced into community drinking water systems. Nearly 1,000 utilities across North America rely on Tokay’s software for backflow device inspection and compliance reporting.

“This acquisition furthers our company’s commitment to delivering trusted software solutions that help municipalities manage their water operations, ensure compliance, and improve efficiencies,” says Ed Quilty, CEO, Aquatic Informatics. “Tokay is a natural extension of our platform. We are thrilled that Tokay will join us in our purpose to protect life with open and timely water information.”

With support from Aquatic Informatics, Tokay will help more utilities streamline their compliance inspections, improve communication, and automate the process of entering test results, thereby driving operational efficiencies.

“Aquatic Informatics has a long history of innovation. We are excited to join this talented team, and we are looking forward to bringing these resources to our solutions,” says Jim McCoy, Founder and CEO, Tokay. “Our customers will benefit from Aquatic Informatics’ world-class solutions, services, and support. The culture and vision of the company is a great fit for our team.”

Quilty adds: “Together with Jim McCoy, Lora Peers, and the rest of the Tokay team, we will continue to drive technological advancement and deliver outstanding support to the Tokay customer base.”

Aquatic Informatics will continue to enhance and expand its product offerings, operating from headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, the primary U.S. office in Denver, and an Australian office in Hobart. The Tokay team remains based in Delray Beach, Florida.

About Aquatic Informatics

Aquatic Informatics is a mission-driven software company that organizes the world’s water data to make it accessible and useful. As the world’s largest water data management company, and with more than 1,000 customers in 60 countries, Aquatic Informatics is unique in that it provides information technology solutions for all water: source water, drinking water, municipal and industrial wastewater, and the receiving environment. Aquatic Informatics is guided by its “3P” core values which balance Planet, People, and Prosperity. These values run through the entire business and can be seen in decision making, employee support, software donations, volunteer work, and commitment to customers. aquaticinformatics.com/solutions/

About Tokay Software

Tokay Software has been a leader in providing software, solutions and training to the cross connection and backflow market since 1993. Its software applications are flexible and easily customized by the user with an array of useful tools. Together with its experienced support and product development team, and more than 25 years of program administration, it has become the software of choice for the cross connection and backflow industry. tokay.com

Continue reading Aquatic Informatics Expands Municipal Digital Water Portfolio

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nebraska DNR Selects AQUARIUS for their continuous water data management.

Vancouver, Canada, May 16, 2019 – Aquatic Informatics, the global leader in water data management and analytics, announces today that the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources has selected the AQUARIUS Platform for their Stream Gaging Program data.

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for managing the state’s most precious water resources, through sound partnerships, cooperation and science-based decision making. As such, they strive to gather and analyze data needed to make the best decisions concerning the use of water.

“We are very excited to work alongside Nebraska as they modernize their processes, infrastructure and tools related to their Stream Gaging Program,” stated Ed Quilty, President and CEO of Aquatic Informatics. “They selected Aquatic Informatics as their partner to provide them with the reliability and dependability they need to manage their critical water resources data, as we have provided to water agencies around the world.”

Nebraska DNR operates and maintains a stream gaging network comprised of more than 250 gaging sites. The network includes continuous stream and reservoir gages, partial year gages, canal gages, canal return flow gages, and miscellaneous spot measurements. The core network consists of approximately 110 continuous stream gages and 120 canal gages. After extreme flooding events over the last few years and a desire to improve the availability of the data from the network, they decided to look for options to replace their aging workflows and technology.

The AQUARIUS Platform will provide a modern, reliable data management solution for all of their continuous data. The adoption of this modern software solution, coincides with updates being made to their continuous record working processes along with upgrades to their stream gauging equipment.

“The AQUARIUS Platform comes very highly recommended from our neighboring states and colleagues across the country,” explains James Williams, Stream Gaging & Nebraska Rain Engineer. “We were very excited to partner with Aquatic Informatics with their track record of rating efficiencies, improved workflow performance, robust editing tools, and audit trail. Their partnership with the USGS combined with their track record of reliability and dependability will help us to modernize our processes and overcome past performance issues. In addition to our process improvements and technology enhancements, we are certain that this investment in our Stream Gaging program will result in increased efficiencies for the state of Nebraska.”

About Aquatic Informatics Inc.

Aquatic Informatics is a mission-driven software company that organizes the world’s water data to make it accessible and useful. As the world’s largest water data management company, and with more than 1,000 customers in 60 countries, Aquatic Informatics is unique in that it provides information technology solutions for all water: source water, drinking water, municipal and industrial wastewater, and the receiving environment. Aquatic Informatics is guided by its 3P core values which balance Planet, People, and Prosperity. These values run through the entire business and can be seen in decision making, employee support, software donations, volunteer work, and commitment to customers.

For more information about Aquatic Informatics, visit www.aquaticinformatics.com.

About the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources

Finding a balance between competing demands is a key to Nebraska‛s resource future. Assessing impacts of alternative soil and water management options requires an understanding of complex issues and substantial amounts of reliable data. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) is committed to providing Nebraska‛s citizens and leaders with the data and analyses they need to make wise resource decisions for the benefit of all Nebraskans both now and in the future.

For more information about Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, visit: https://dnr.nebraska.gov

Continue reading Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Partners with Aquatic Informatics to Modernize Their Stream Gaging Tools and Processes

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Last year, we celebrated International Women’s Day by kicking off our first ever “Women in Water” feature with a highly popular blog series showcasing the achievements of women working in the water industry. This year, we thought we’d continue the tradition by rallying around the official theme of International Women’s Day 2019, #BalanceforBetter.

When we better the gender balance, we better the world.

Gender balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. Gender balance is important in boardrooms, governments, media coverage, employment, wealth distribution, sports coverage, and in all other areas of life. This year’s International Women’s Day both celebrates the achievements of women and makes a call for accelerating gender balance in all groups collectively around the world. You can read more about the larger movement here.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been collecting nominations for this years’ “Women in Water.” These women included both staff members of Aquatic Informatics and our customers from our AQUARIUS, Linko, and WaterTrax brands. The nominees then answered a series of questions, including what this year’s theme means to them, and their answers have since been put together in a video that we are releasing today.

Watch the video now or take a look at the inspiring women who participated below!

Water connects us all. If we protect this resource, we can make a better planet. For me, better balance means connected innovation. As we better balance our representation and recognize all groups that have experienced systemic and institutional injustice, we make our decisions, our utilities, and our community more connected. Innovation is about connecting various viewpoints and finding new and balanced ways to solve challenges. Water connects all of us, so managing this resource through better balance and representation is vital to create the connected innovation we need to ensure sustainable access to high quality, affordable water for all.”

Nicole Pasch, Acting Assistant Environmental Services Manager
City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, MI, United States

“When I was in school most people would say that all the math and physics taught in class were mostly useless in life after school. This motivated me to look for a career where math and physics played an important role, and on this search I stumbled upon meteorology. This is how the journey began and now I can use that knowledge to help decision making in the water industry. My advice to others is to never give up learning about new things, particularly things related to the industry. Learning is a lifelong process that will make you better at what you do as your career develops.”

Gloria Arrocha, Meteorologist
Panama Canal Authority, Panama City, Republic of Panama

“My desire to work in the environmental field stems from a 6th grade book report on Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist. Her passion for protecting every member of a vanishing clan of gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes inspired me to steadfastly hold true to my values and pursue my dreams. While I didn’t follow her into the jungle, I do get work in the jungle that is the wastewater field! To someone interested in the water or wastewater industry, my advice is to consider how each sector plays a role in achieving our water quality goals and how rapidly this field is evolving in response to changes in water resource issues and improved access to high quality data and information.”

Allison Osborne, Supervising Engineer,
Houston Water, Houston, TX, United States


“Balance for me means that there is a much broader perspective at the table when we’re trying to work through the environmental issues that the world is facing. My advice for people interested in getting into the industry is that it doesn’t matter what your passions or what your interests are, you can find a way to be involved in water, regardless of whether you’re a scientist, software developer, or someone working out in the field or in nature. Don’t limit yourself too soon – whatever your passion is, you can find a way to water.”

AJ Leitch, Vice President of Customer Success
Aquatic Informatics, Vancouver, BC, Canada

“To me, the theme of better balance means more empathy, understanding, knowledge, and efficiency. I studied glaciology at university, inspired by a particularly enthusiastic lecturer. This involved fieldwork and after uni I got a job for which that fieldwork experience was useful, which turned out to be mostly field hydrology. I enjoyed it and then followed opportunities as they arose to get to where I am today. The job industry as a whole is always changing, so my advice to others is to be open to exploring new opportunities, learning new skills, and branching into new areas.”

Lisa Naysmith, Environmental Data Analyst
Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Whakatāne, New Zealand

“As a child, I spent a lot of time outside, playing and exploring. This started a lifelong curiosity about the natural world – what’s in it, how does it work, how do we influence and change it? Working in the field of water quality gives me an opportunity to leverage my education and interests while also feeling good about the work that I do. We need people who are willing and able to think outside the box to innovate to address water issues across the globe. If you are passionate about water and water issues, get involved in your community and start exploring your options as soon as you can.”

Dr. Margaret Guyette, Water Resource Data Manager
St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, FL, United States

“I believe that every time there is a gender balance in the workforce, there are better outcomes for everyone. My decision to ultimately pursue a career in water came more from my heart than my head. I have always been interested in water – there is a thread of interest in it throughout my life. I think water is a fascinating and exciting field. I don’t think people consider working in the wastewater sector to be a viable option, but the local public owned treatment works that I come in contact with are doing some very innovative things in line with sustainability and waste reduction. So my advice is to not overlook wastewater as a viable way to contribute to the water world.”

Elizabeth Sala, Environmental Water Quality Specialist
West Basin Municipal Water District, Carson, CA, United States

“For me, this year’s theme means better alignment to achieve harmony where we can reach our goals together! Water is our most precious resource, no matter where you live, and I believe that alignment is needed to best protect it. The water industry is a great industry to work in if you are passionate about the environment and technology because things are evolving and changing at such a rapid pace. Lots of room for innovation!”

Sheena Graham, Marketing Specialist
Aquatic Informatics, Vancouver, BC, Canada

“As we are moving more towards digital world, my advice to others would be to learn more about current technology trends related to the water industry, which will help with career growth. For me, #BalanceforBetter means equality, fulfillment, and growth!”

Vanitha Pradeep, Environmental Specialist – Data
Auckland Council, Auckland, New Zealand

“The advice I would give to others is to look the career options you are interested in, read all you can about it and then actively pursue it – volunteer in the field, and take the industry certification exams as soon as you can, even if you do not already have a job in the field. If you can do any internship during college (if you are pursuing a career requiring college), do it – you will learn a lot and the experience will put you afar above others when job openings arise. Basically, I just think everyone should consider a career in water and/or wastewater!”

Mindy Boele, Water Quality Manager
City of Vacaville, Vacaville, CA, United States

.

From all of us at Aquatic Informatics, Happy International Women’s Day 2019!

Continue reading International Women’s Day Video – March 8, 2019

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I am very happy to announce that the paper: The Role of the Hydrographer in Rating Curve Development has now been published in Confluence: Journal of Watershed Science and Management.

Marianne Watson, Robin Pike, and I all learned a lot from each other in the process of writing this paper, resulting in a product that is greater than the sum of the inputs.

Marianne is an independent consulting hydrologist and hydrographer based in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Marianne provides almost all of the training for rating curves in New Zealand. The climate and geography of New Zealand presents hydrographers there with some of the most challenging and dynamic channel conditions in the world. New Zealanders are also very effective in sharing their knowledge, gained through hard field experiences, resulting in New Zealand being a global hotspot for innovation in hydrometric methods.

Ever since I first met Marianne, she has been one of my go-to authorities for almost anything to do with rating curves. She has profound insight backed up by first-hand field experience. She also has the best BS detector of anyone I have ever met. In fact, that is the origin of this paper. I presented a paper on low flow extension1 of rating curves at a technical workshop in Dunedin, New Zealand in April of 2017, and afterwards, Marianne called me out on the validity of one of the graphs buried deep in the middle of the presentation. On further investigation, I discovered an error in an assumption. My attempts to understand how, and why, I was wrong was the genesis of this paper.

Robin has dedicated much of his career to improving the quality of hydrometric data and bettering standards of practice. His knowledge of what to do, and how to do it, is also backed up by extensive and diverse field experience. Robin has a particular interest in helping hydrographers that don’t have the benefit of working for a national hydrometric service. These hydrographers are too often left to their own devices for self-training and trying to figure out how to reconcile compliance with accepted standards with very small operating budgets.

The real question is why the three of us would feel compelled to put so much time and effort into writing this paper.

This was a difficult paper to write. Most journal articles are an incremental advance on an extensive body of work, so the task is mainly a matter of putting the present work into that broader context. However, even though there is an abundance of literature about rating curves, there is little that we could find to build on. Most of the existing body of work is written from an engineering or academic perspective that has historically neglected, at best, or worse, actively disparaged the benefits of subjective inputs into rating curve development.

However, there is a trend in the current literature that is moving away from rating curves as being a purely empirical exercise. Advances in understanding discharge uncertainty is showing that there is substantial unexplained uncertainty that is not aleatoric (i.e. random and identically distributed) but rather epistemic (i.e. a systematic consequence of incomplete knowledge of the system being modeled). A better understanding of uncertainty is driving progress toward probabilistic, Bayesian2, approaches that can produce better results from indeterminate inputs. In the jargon of this approach, these inputs are called priors, which represent prior knowledge of how the system functions.

Bringing prior knowledge into the process of rating curve development and management is exactly what hydrographers have been doing for generations.

But the story of how they use their first-hand field experiences to improve ratings has never been formally told. First and foremost, this story should help in the training of young hydrographers to allow them to more quickly develop the intuitive skill that their senior colleagues have had to acquire through many years of trial and error. This story should change the way that conversations about rating curves are conducted, providing a framework where, rather than being opinion-based (i.e. where the oldest, loudest voice wins), evidence-based discussions about the validity of underlying assumptions can prevail. Finally, this story may help guide current research into how Bayesian models can be designed to benefit from prior knowledge gained through field experience.

Writing this story to the rigorous standards of a scientific journal is important for the purposes of clarity and credibility.

However, the formal and concise writing style needed does not allow for any embellishment. It is my opinion that readers can better relate to a story if it is enhanced by the story-telling. For this reason, I will be writing a series of blog posts over the coming months that will retell some of the most important elements of this story in a style that frequent readers of this blog post are more accustomed to.

Stay tuned for the next installment!

1 Hamilton, S. 2017. Low flow rating extension. New Zealand Hydrological Society Technical Workshop. April 3-6. Dunedin, New Zealand.

2 Hamilton, S. and T. Farahmand. 2016. Use-case considerations for development of machine learning algorithms for deriving uncertainty associated with stage-discharge rating curves. RiverFlow Proceedings of the International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics (River Flow 2016), St. Louis, USA, 11-14 July 2016

Continue reading Why Does the Role of the Hydrographer in Rating Curve Development Even Need an Explanation?

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Aquatic Informatics by Stu Hamilton - 6M ago

I was recently in South Australia doing some ratings training and learned of a tradition that I think should be shared globally amongst hydrographers.

When a South Australian hydrographer gets a period of record high gauging, they get wier’d.

The wier formula is a bit different from the weir formula you learned in tech school. It is: Q = 0.8 * B + 0.1 * W, where Q is the quantity of wier, B is beer, and W is wine. The beer can be any draught ale or lager but the wine should be a full-bodied red with a Barossa Valley Shiraz being strongly preferred.

The quantity Q should be proportionate to the magnitude of the gauged flow event.

To celebrate a minor event (say a 5-year return period), you could get a bit wier’d but a major event (e.g. a 50-year return event) deserves getting really wier’d.

I am interested in what other traditions are out there that should be shared. Let me know if you have anything that is as good as getting wier’d.

Continue reading Have You Been Wier’d?

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Happy holidays from all the contributors here at Hydrology Corner!

It’s been another busy year at Hydrology Corner with many insightful and important discussions on a range of themes such as water resource managementestimating alpha, and women in the water industry.

Here are our top 5 most popular posts:
  1. The Quest for Alpha
  2. Women in Water, Week 1: Paving the Way
  3. Data Management: A Bridge Over Troubled Waters
  4. Strategic Recommendations for Water Monitoring for the Next 25 Years
  5. International Women’s Day – March 8, 2018

We appreciate your interest and contributions and it’s been a pleasure discussing best practices, data management, water quality, and trends in the water monitoring industry with you all. We look forward to more interesting discussions with you in 2019.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Ed Quilty
President & CEO, Aquatic Informatics

Continue reading Happy Holidays! Our Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2018

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A new report, “Future Water Priorities for the Nation: Directions for the U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area,” speaks to water science and resources challenges for the next 25 years. While written specifically for the Water Mission Area (WMA) for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the driving forces for change are applicable to any region of the world.

The scope of the problem is well summarized in Final Thoughts (p. 41), which are worth repeating verbatim:

The global population will grow by 2 billion by 2040 and will place additional demands on natural resources. This growth in population will be realized during a time of economic advances in the developing world, which will likely amplify demands. Global temperatures will continue to increase over the next 25 years, and climate change will continue its course. The world population living in urban areas will grow to about 60 percent by 2040. All these changes will add to the water resources challenges identified above, with concomitant needs for new data, information, analyses, and science to address the challenges.

To deal with these challenges, the report makes specific recommendations, which are worthy of discussion throughout the global water monitoring community. Many agencies are already making good progress on some of these recommendations. Awareness of what others are doing can expedite and accelerate change in regions with greater barriers to proactive planning and development of their water monitoring systems.

Recommendation 1.1: Enhance data collection, include citizen science, and develop web-based analytical tools.

More data is needed, and monitoring networks need increased flexibility to acquire more data, with some of it from unconventional sources. This will require increases in public funding, and for the public to come on board, they need to see the value of their investments with improved access to information products.

Recommendation 1.2: Coordinate with agencies and organizations on data delivery.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has made good progress in developing the technology for data interoperability but there is much more work to do to develop a highly functional and resilient water data ecosystem of producers and consumers.

Recommendation 2.1: Increase focus on the relationships between human activities and water.

It is becoming clear that before we have finished developing an understanding of water quantity and quality dynamics in natural systems that natural systems are becoming scarce to the point of extinction. The role of socioeconomic factors in hydrology are becoming more impactful than the role of geology and climate.

Recommendation 3.1: Develop a robust water accounting system.

Closing a water balance equation and accounting for all the inputs, storages, and output of a basin has always been challenging. We are getting a lot better at quantifying the atmospheric inputs and losses to evaporation and runoff but the assumption that humans can be ignored from the water balance is no longer tenable.

Recommendation 3.2: Collaborate with agencies and organizations on water data standards and categories of use.

My interpretation of the difference in the recommendation to collaborate (3.2) from the recommendation to coordinate (1.2) is that coordination is an outcome of collaboration. In other words, collaboration represents decisions, planning, and commitment, whereas coordination is a systematic action with collective purpose.

Recommendation 4.1: Ensure that monitoring networks provide adequate information to assess changing conditions.

Most national water monitoring agencies already have a portion of their network dedicated to change detection. I would argue that this recommendation is about much more than doing the same thing, the same way. Decades ago, the question of whether change is detectable, or not, was an interesting question and sub-networks were tasked with answering that question. However, that question has been answered. The questions now are: what are the social, economic, and ecological consequences of change? Can change be attributed to source? If the source of change is known and measurable, can change be predicted? What we monitor, where we monitor, and how we monitor will need to adapt to the changing questions.

Recommendation 5.1: Focus on long-term prediction and risk assessment of extreme water conditions.

Extremes of droughts and floods have always been central to the raison d’etre for most monitoring agencies but now we can add extremes of water quality. Adapting to the changing extremes will require a) surviving them b) mitigating them, and c) avoiding them. Option c should come before option a but that is not how politics works (I can say that even if the authors of the report need to be more polite). We need monitoring that will provide useful data during extreme events, we need data management to put the events into useful context for engineering mitigation, and we need data to feed science to develop the knowledge needed to be safe in the future.

Recommendation 6: Develop multiscale, integrated, dynamic models that encompass the full water cycle.

Such models require an investment that exceed that of most water monitoring agencies. However, this report does have an outlook of 25 years and I am not prepared to deny that such modeling capacity could be achievable for much of the world in that time-frame.

Recommendation 7: Collaborate as appropriate both within and outside of the USGS, including agencies and the private sector.

I think this differs from recommendations 1.2 and 3.2 in that this calls for inter-sectoral collaboration. This make sense because water is integral to a complex web of interdisciplinary science and multi-sectoral policies. Don’t look at your feet, look up and get the big picture.

Recommendation 8: Build a workforce who are ready to take on new water challenges.

Well said. Without 8, recommendations 1 to 7 won’t happen.

From my vantage point at Aquatic Informatics, I interpret all of these recommendations through the lens of water data management. Our role is to help water monitoring agencies prepare for the next 25 years (and beyond). This report doesn’t point to anything that we didn’t already know and it is reassuring that all of our clients are on the right path even though there is much more work to do.

It is easier to run a marathon in an event with hundreds of other athletes than it is to go the distance on your own. Water monitoring agencies often work in relative isolation from each other and sharing these recommendations can provide some comfort that you have plenty of company for the long challenge ahead.

Executive Guide: 5 Reasons to Modernize Water Data Management

Water monitoring is an essential public service. While funding is limited, the stakes are high and measured in the billions of dollars. Learn how your agency can benefit from proven data-to-information-to-knowledge management best practices. Read the Guide ⟶

Continue reading Strategic Recommendations for Water Monitoring for the Next 25 Years

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Laboratory analysis of a water quality sample links a lot of data to a singular point in time and space.

However, the objectives for monitoring may span scales from point (e.g. at an outfall) to watershed (e.g. to characterize waters; identify trends; assess threats; inform pollution control; guide environmental emergency response; and support the development, implementation, and assessment of policies and regulations).

Reconciling data- and metadata-dense analytical results with watershed-scale outcomes is a work-in-progress for many monitoring agencies.

Strategic design of water quality monitoring program networks can facilitate inference about the vast un-sampled space from the sparsely sampled points. Sites can be chosen as “index” sites where the condition of water at that site is indicative of the condition of interest of one, or more, management objectives.

Direct sharing of data is one mechanism that works well for some end-uses.

The client “merely” needs to choose exactly which samples, of exactly which parameters (there can be dozens), at exactly which locations, created by exactly which methods (for inter-comparability), and download the data for further analysis. A sophisticated end-user who has specific questions, about specific parameters, at specific places and times can find the answers they need in discoverable, searchable, and accessible online data.

However, for the end-user who merely wants to find water that is swimmable, fishable, or drinkable, the prospect of reviewing every parameter at every location for all recent samples and putting that data in the context of relevant guidelines and thresholds is far too onerous a task. For these users, water quality indices are a very good solution.

A water quality index (WQI) is equivalent to the grade on a school report card.

On some scale (often 0 to 100), all of the relevant data within an area of interest can be reduced into a single, easy to interpret number. There are a plethora of different water quality indices to choose from, each one tuned to locally relevant issues, priorities, regulations, and guidelines. Some are tuned to monitoring the natural environment (i.e. base state and influence of human activity), some to human health (i.e. consumption and recreation), and others to competitiveness (i.e. water fitness for purpose for industrial and agricultural uses).

Data sharing and WQI are like bookends to the problem of connecting water quality data to the many and varied societal objectives that demand timely, relevant, and reliable information about the condition of the water resource.

At one end you have onerous granularity of information and at the other end you have a smearing of valuable precision in time, space, and parameter-specific dynamics.

Somewhere between these extremes must be a solution that is “just right.”

In recent decades, water resource managers around the world have embraced real-time reporting of continuous records of water level and discharge. The timeliness of these data has enabled many changes in how water resources are managed. Highly responsive and adaptive decisions based on what is happening as opposed to what has happened, or what could happen, is widely attributed with many improved outcomes for water supply management.

We know that flow and water quality are highly correlated as a result of integration of sources of varying water constituents (i.e. dilution and concentration). The integration of all contributing water into flow at a specified location inherently connects point-scale observations to watershed-scale events.

Continuous monitoring and real-time communication from multi-probe water quality sensors is starting to bridge the considerable gap between observation-scale data and watershed-scale-outcomes.

For example, specific conductance is a parameter that varies in accordance to the concentration of dissolved ions such as calcium, chloride, fluoride, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulphate. Synchronization of discrete laboratory analyses with specific conductivity and discharge can reveal which ions are influential at which flow regimes, providing real insight into not only what is happening, but why. This improved understanding of spatial and temporal dynamics of water quality parameters improves the inference that can be made across all relevant time and space scales.

However, multi-probe sensors are not enough.

Better integration of laboratory data management with continuous monitoring data management is needed to reconcile the problem of how sparse and dense information can better inform watershed-scale objectives.

eBook: The Value of Water Monitoring

You understand the value of water monitoring but need additional, sustainable funding. Know that you are not alone. The gap between water monitoring capability and the rapidly evolving need for evidence-based policies, planning, and engineering design is growing. Learn how to form persuasive arguments that are sensitive to local politics and priorities to address this global deficit in funding. The benefits of hydrological information DO vastly outweigh investments in water monitoring. Read eBook here.

Continue reading A Question of Scale – Reconciling Information Density with Information Scarcity

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Evidence-based decision-making is a useful framework for the development of policies and practices to ensure water security, ecosystem resilience, and productive societies. The term “evidence-based” is gradually yielding to the term “data-driven” as focus shifts from specified data (i.e. fit-for purpose) to data discovery (i.e. big data) as the source of evidence.

The progression from “fit-for-purpose” data to “big data” can be attributed, in part, to unwanted watershed scale outcomes such as harmful algal blooms, conflicts over water supply, and hardships caused by extreme events. In many regions of the world, the apparent trend in unwanted events is proof that there is insufficient supply of fit-for-purpose data to guide water resources policies and practices with the precision needed to enhance security, resilience, and productivity. The logical response to this deficiency would be to increase the supply of “fit-for-purpose” data (i.e. increase funding to the most trusted water monitoring agencies); however, Moore’s Law has provided a compelling alternative.

Rapid reductions in the size and cost of microprocessors are resulting in data about almost everything, almost everywhere, almost all of the time.

The world’s capacity to store information has, apparently, doubled every 40 days since the 1980’s. With such momentum, it seems only a matter of time before “big-data” has the volume, variety, velocity, and veracity to subordinate conventional water monitoring programs. This brings me to Recommendation 1.1: Enhance data collection, include citizen science, and develop Web-based analytical tools from the report “Future Water Priorities for the Nation: Directions for the U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area,” which I have previously discussed in the post Strategic Recommendations for Water Monitoring for the Next 25 Years.

The notion of citizen science as a source of data is compelling. There is a wealth of data waiting to be discovered, nurtured, and enhanced. New sources of data can be propagated by strategically publishing apps which people will download so that they can contribute to a greater good.

The question is, can citizen science or big-data be fit-for-purpose, where the objective is better policies and practices for watershed management?

It’s pretty clear that current trends in data volume, variety, and velocity are heading in a useful direction. But what about veracity? You may be interested in a paper by Etter et al., (2018), recently published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, which addresses this question from the perspective of hydrological modelling. In this paper, the authors evaluated the value of observations based on selected criteria for accuracy and sample frequency that mimic a scenario of data sourced from citizen science. In this case, the objective performance of the data was measured by goodness of fit for a simple hydrological model calibration. However, I think it is reasonable to assume that if data are informative for model calibration, then those data may also be fit-for-purpose for a wider variety of uses.

You may find the findings of this research unsurprising. Streamflow estimates from citizens are uninformative unless errors can be reduced through training or advanced filtering of the data. To make streamflow estimates useful, the error distribution of the estimates needs to be reduced by a factor of 2.

At the reduced uncertainty, citizen science-sourced data can be informative but sample frequency becomes important.

This study is narrow in scope compared the the variety of data sources that are imaginable from crowd-sourcing or the Internet of Things, but it does provide a useful benchmark against which the enthusiasm for big data can be measured. There is a present need for fit-for-purpose water data to support immediate needs for evidence-based decision making. This can only be provided by conventional monitoring techniques and methods.

Sheer volume of data is a poor substitute for data veracity.
eBook: The Value of Water Monitoring

You understand the value of water monitoring but need additional, sustainable funding. Know that you are not alone. The gap between water monitoring capability and the rapidly evolving need for evidence-based policies, planning, and engineering design is growing. Learn how to form persuasive arguments that are sensitive to local politics and priorities to address this global deficit in funding. The benefits of hydrological information DO vastly outweigh investments in water monitoring. Read eBook here.

Continue reading The Value of Uncertain Data

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview