R. John Dawes
Oct 10 · 4 min read

Our team just completed and released phase one of our real-time data integrations into the Water Reporter Platform. Working in partnership with the James River Association (JRA), we now enable users to easily pull data from USGS’s network of over 182,000 monitoring locations in the National Water Information System (NWIS) and immediately begin leveraging that data for current condition assessment and visualization.

With up-to-the minute gauge height data from USGS, visualized using Water Reporter analytics, JRA’s James River Watch maps now relay whether local boating conditions are favorable, below, or above ideal levels based on the closest USGS monitoring site. Local paddlers have relied on this information for years but it often involves finding the correct monitoring station relative to where one paddles as well as knowing how those gauge levels correlate to your stretch of the river. With the USGS — Water Reporter integration, boaters can confidently launch after quickly navigating to the James River Watch map to view the latest paddling conditions as well as bacteria samples that indicate relative contact risk. Viewing these two important data sources together helps paddlers maximize fun while having a general sense of paddling conditions and water quality.

An example of current boating conditions outside of Richmond, VA powered by James River Watch and Water Reporter

Supporting Users with Data Source Integrations

Previous versions of Water Reporter only supported one data source per map, and each data source could only support manual management of data collected from the sampling location. This works great for volunteer data collection workflows, but falls short if you want to add real-time hardware or other monitoring data to yourWater Reporter embeddable map. Enter the USGS Integration!

Creating a new data source from the new USGS National Water Information System Integration

Think of this as a container that manages the blueprint to store, visualize, and dynamically update data from USGS’s National Water Information System. With this necessary infrastructure in place, users simply create an instance of their USGS Data source and begin adding monitoring sites for inclusion in their maps. To add stations, James River Association staff simply enters the relevant Station ID from NWS and Water Reporter handles the rest.

Adding USGS 02037500 JAMES RIVER NEAR RICHMOND, VA to a Water Reporter Data Source

Add Station ID’s and Map Rules

When we say Water Reporter handles the rest, we really mean it. Water Reporter grabs the location, preps data for trend lines & charts, and allows the user to configure customizable descriptions, station images, as well as establish dynamic visual rules related to how station pins appear on the map. James River Association was able to apply their own local knowledge of best boating conditions for each gauge station and establish those as thresholds for each USGS monitoring site. Any organization can replicate this workflow and apply their own local knowledge to support their community in understanding local river conditions.

Below is an example of James River Association’s rules set for defining boating conditions. If the river level of the river gauge is greater than 9ft, the boating conditions are hazardous, between 7 and 9ft use caution, and below 7ft, conditions are favorable. As the data updates, so will the map markers and station analytics. These types of dynamic rules can be set for any numbers of ranges and stations across a data source.

Configurable station ranges for USGS 02037500 JAMES RIVER NEAR RICHMOND, VA

We started by first integrating USGS data because of JRA’s concrete use case to visualize streamflow and river height, however integrations can be extended to other types of hardware or monitoring networks where data is exposed publicly online. Our team aims to establish a variety of useful integrations in the coming months and if you have ideas of one’s you’d like to see incorporated into the platform, drop us a line.

Add Multiple Data Sources to Maps

With our latest rollout organizations can add multiple data sources to maps. The relationship between data sources and maps are really analogous to map layers. You can add as many as you need, and Water Reporter will make sure that all the necessary visual components are packaged up and sent along to your embeddable visual. JRA’s staff scientists helped guide our team with some incredible feedback related to integrating Esri Living Atlas layers into Water Reporter. ESRI’s 24 hour Precipitation Forecasts as well as Weather Watches and Warnings can now be added to any Water Reporter Map and we even threw in the latest posts from Water Reporter community members.

In our latest release, our team has moved one step closer to make Water Reporter as dynamic and flexible as the movement we support. Stay tuned as our very own Erin Hofmann will be announcing some exciting trainings that will help organization’s get up and running fast. In the meantime signup for an account and get in touch to learn how this system can become the backbone of your monitoring program.

Common Syndicate

A collection of environmental policy insights, data journalism, and updates from Chesapeake Commons

R. John Dawes

Written by

Founder/Executive Director of Chesapeake Commons.

Common Syndicate

A collection of environmental policy insights, data journalism, and updates from Chesapeake Commons

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