For the more information about water resources in the National Park Service, please visit

Water Information Management Program

Park ranger taking water quality samples.
Enhancing water resources management while preserving its investment in data collection, analysis, communication, and archiving are key aspects of the Water Information Management Program.


Protecting park aquatic resources from impairment requires ongoing data collection, analysis, communication, and archiving to demonstrate status and trends and provide a credible foundation for resource management. Data and information are vital organizational assets that must be managed properly to ensure the investment made in their collection and analysis was not squandered.

The Water Information Management Program supports parks and networks in the management and archiving of hydrologic data including database design, data management, and GIS applications. Program staff support systems to enable parks and networks to manage water quality and quantity data; facilitate archiving discrete water quality data in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) STORET Data Warehouse; recommend standards for hydrographic data sets; conduct water body and water quality inventories for parks; and assist in acquiring digital hydrographic data.

Highlights and Accomplishments

Commercial-off-the-shelf software, Aquatic Informatics' Aquarius system for continuous time-series data and EarthSoft's EQuIS system for discrete (i.e. less than daily) data, have been acquired to support servicewide water quality and quantity data management.

The servicewide, discrete water quality database (archived within the EPA STORET Data Warehouse) now contains more than 7.56 million results for 5,300 physical, chemical, or biological characteristics from 49,531 monitoring locations in support of 1,209 different projects conducted in or near 262 units of the National Park System from 1891 to present. This represents one of the largest sources of data in the EPA's STORET Data Warehouse. These data are used by the states and EPA to determine whether waters are attaining state water quality standards under the Clean Water Act and by the NPS and others to monitor the status and trends of park aquatic ecosystems.

NPSTORET v.1.83, a complete water quality database management system that allows users to enter information about their water quality monitoring projects, stations, metadata, and results in a Microsoft Access database is available for parks, networks, watershed groups, and others. Users can generate reports, statistics, and graphics describing entered data. Data can be imported from a variety of data sources and formats, including the three major national water quality databases: EPA's Legacy STORET, EPA's Modern STORET, and U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Information System. Data can be exported in the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) format for upload to the EPA's STORET Data Warehouse. Users can use their own water quality standards and display analytical results on maps.

The Water Information Management Program has issued a series of Baseline Water Quality Data Inventory and Analysis Reports summarizing and documenting water quality conditions at 236 parks.

Program staff cooperated with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to help produce the high-resolution National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) — basically digital GIS maps of the nation's surface water hydrography — for all subbasins containing national park units. This effort included incorporating enhanced NPS hydrography into NHD where available.

Program staff maintain a Hydrographic and Impairment Statistics (HIS) database that tracks servicewide hydrographic statistics (e.g. miles of rivers, acres of lakes, etc.) and state Clean Water Act impairments for strategic planning purposes.

Status and Future

Program staff continue to advance the use of Aquarius for managing servicewide continuous water quality and quantity time-series datasets. The USGS recently contracted with Aquatic Informatics' to enhance and modify Aquarius to replace ADAPS and other USGS systems.

EarthSoft and program staff are migrating the NPS' significant discrete water quality database from EPA's stand-alone, distributed STORET database to EQuIS and establishing a data flow from EQuIS to the EPA STORET Data Warehouse through the Environmental Information Exchange Network via the WQX format. Once EQuIS is fully operational, parks and networks will be able to upload discrete water quality directly into the NPS' EQuIS and have it transfer automatically to the EPA STORET Data Warehouse.

NPSTORET development continues with the emphasis on supporting continuous time-series and profile data, WQX compatibility, and direct upload into EQuIS. Program staff continue to facilitate NHD stewardship while updating the HIS database with the latest state Clean Water Act information.

More Information

Last Updated: January 04, 2017