STORET Commonly Asked Questions
Newest entry added June 7, 2005.
General STORET Questions
Downloading STORET Data
Local STORET User Questions
General STORET Questions
What is STORET?
STORET is EPA's main repository of water quality monitoring data. It contains water quality information from a variety
of organizations across the country, from small volunteer watershed groups to State and Federal environmental agencies.
Can you explain the terms "Legacy STORET", "Modernized STORET", "STORET Data Warehouse", and "Legacy Data Center"?
"Legacy STORET" is the term we use when we mean the original
(mainframe) STORET Water Quality File. From 1965 until 1998, this system
was known simply as "STORET", and was the only STORET database. Storing
data in it, and retrieving data from it could only be accomplished by
someone with a mainframe User ID, and with specialized training. Since
the middle of 1999, it has not been possible to use this system for
data entry, and in the year 2000 it became unusable for
retrieval as well.
In order to preserve the data content of Legacy STORET, we have created
the "Legacy Data Center". It uses modern relational database
technology, and is housed on a UNIX/Oracle database server. The general public may browse
or download its data, using a standard web browser such as Netscape,
or Microsoft IE. All the data content from the Legacy STORET database
was copied to this new database server during 1999, and the mainframe Legacy STORET was shut down.
Updates will not be permitted to the Legacy Data Center.
"Modernized STORET" is the system created to replace Legacy
STORET for the storage and retrieval of water quality and biological
data. Unlike its predecessor, Modernized STORET is installed on personal
computers all over the country. Data is entered on the local PC using
software provided free by EPA, and access to an EPA computer is not
required. The local STORET owners can choose when (or whether) to upload
mirror images of their STORET data at their convenience, and EPA will
make these uploaded mirror images visible to the general public.
These uploaded mirror images will reside in our "STORET Data Warehouse".
The STORET Data Warehouse also uses a UNIX/Oracle database server, and
like the Legacy Data Center, its contents may be browsed or downloaded
by the general public, using a standard web browser such as Netscape,
or Microsoft IE.
How can I contact someone from the STORET Team?
STORET has a central support team in place that can be reached by phone (1-800-424-9067) or email (email@example.com). You
can also reach a STORET coordinator in each of the 10 EPA Region offices.
What does it take to operate a copy of STORET?
Please see our About STORET page for details on operating a copy of the STORET System to manage
your water quality data.
What's the relationship between EPA monitoring data in STORET and USGS monitoring data in NWIS?
The USGS and STORET have agreed to utilize common definitions and formats,
to promote a common view of data between their two systems. The full text of this agreement is available online.
I'm a Beach Grant recipient and need to send my data to EPA, how do I use eBeaches?
Beach grantees who wish to use eBeaches to submit environmental data to EPA can find more information at the eBeaches home page.
Downloading STORET Data
How can I obtain water quality data maintained in STORET?
Anyone with a web browser and internet access can browse and download monitoring data from STORET. Simply go to our
data download page under the "Obtaining Water Quality Data" sidebar entry and query either of our two online data systems.
How often is the STORET Warehouse refreshed?
The STORET Data Warehouse is refreshed with new data on the 2nd Monday of each month. Monitoring data is submitted to STORET from
individual monitoring groups at varied rates (i.e. monthly, quarterly, etc.). We will take data that we've received in a given
month, could be one organization or 20 organizations, and add that to our STORET Warehouse. If you are a STORET Organization,
please send your export to EPA by the last Wednesday of the month to view data on the Warehouse by the next refresh date.
The Legacy Data Center is a static, archived database that is not updated.
When I download data, is my query saved on the web?
For analysis purposes, you will want to save the results of your Warehouse query to your local harddrive. Also,
when you succeed with an elaborate data query, and you click on that link
which says "Download your file now ...", your data will be displayed by your browser with a "URL" which looks like
where the 20031003 is the query date in YYYYMMDD form,
and the 102249 is the Eastern time the query was
performed in HHMMSS form.
You can bookmark this URL. Your download file will be
held for up to 21 days, during which time if you should
need a fresh copy, the bookmark may be used to reload
the data without repeating the query.
Local STORET User Questions
Is STORET ODBC compliant?
Yes, STORET is ODBC compliant, as a direct result of our decision to house
STORET's data in a commercial ODBC compliant environment, the Oracle
database engine."ODBC" stands for Open Data Base Connectivity, and is a convention
or standard adopted by the authors of many commercial products to ease
the movement of data from one environment to another. Applications which
are "ODBC Compliant" can use this feature to seamlessly exchange data
among themselves. What this means is that once your PC workstation is
logged on to your local copy of STORET, all ODBC compliant applications
you use can read and analyze your STORET data without the need to extract
and/or convert your data to a compatible form. Neither EPA nor the Office of Water endorses specific commercial software
applications, but many of the widely used packages are also ODBC compliant,
among them the Microsoft Excel ®, Corel Quattro Pro ®
and Lotus 123 ® spread sheet applications, the Microsoft
Access ® database application, the ESRI ArcView ®
geographic mapping application, and many others.
How do I send my STORET data to EPA?
To have your locally-maintained STORET data included in the STORET Data Warehouse, you must "export" your database and send
it to the STORET Team at EPA Headquarters. For a single workstation setup, this can be accomplished by using the
"Export Data" option under the System Administration area of the STORET Data Entry Module. For those operating in a
client/server environment, have your Database Administrator (DBA) create an export of the STORET1 schema. The resulting
export file and its associated log file should be bundled using WinZIP or PKZip. Depending on the size of the file, you can
either email (using a .zzz file extension) it to firstname.lastname@example.org or transfer the files via FTP at ftp://upload.epa.gov/incoming/storet/. The latter process
still requires sending an email to email@example.com stating that the export was placed on the FTP site.
How can I print out the STORET ERD using a plotter?
The STORET Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) is available in 2 forms. One is a
multi-page document that can be printed on 8 1/2 X 11 paper and pieced together
to create the ERD. The other is a large format document sized for large plotters.
Using a 36" plotter, use "landscape" instead of "portrait", and create a custom size of 46" wide X 34" high and use the same dimensions with the "scale to fit to page" option. Comes out much larger and easier to read than ANSI D.
Please also see the Oracle Designer Document describing all the components of an ERD.
Is there a known bug with running STORET and McAfee Virus Scan 7.0?
An issue was found by Eric Wilson (415-972-3454). This applies to PCs with versions 2.0 of STORET, Reports Module and SIM
running with Personal Oracle 8.1.7. I've run into a problem with three
different Windows XP PC's that also have McAfee Virus Scan 7.0 (their
latest version) installed. STORET itself runs fine, but trying to start
up either Reports or SIM 2.0 resulted in a TNS Listener error followed
by refusal of the computer to actually run either program. I tried
shutting off Virus Scan but that didn't help. I finally removed Virus
Scan from my laptop and Reports and SIM worked perfectly afterwards. I
did not have this issue with earlier versions of Virus Scan. I don't
use Norton Virus Scan so I can't comment on if it also causes this
problem. However, McAfee Version 7.0 clearly has some type of
compatibility problem with the Oracle Reports runtime files needed for
Reports and SIM....unless McAfee is suddenly convinced Oracle is a
virus. Virus Scan 6.0 seemed to work just fine.
Where can I find reference tables for STORET?
Various reference tables for STORET can be found on the internet. Reference Tables for the Modern STORET are available here:
ftp://ftp.epa.gov/storet/reference_tables/. Reference Tables for the Legacy Data Center are available here:
http://www.epa.gov/storpubl/legacy/ref_tables.htm. Note that the current STORET
System no longer maintains a list of unique "parameter" codes for each substance.
Can I use "wildcards" in searching for characteristics?
The list of characteristics in STORET is quite large, over 320,000 different entries for chemical compounds
and taxonomic names. To aid in searching through this list for particular items, you can use "%" as a wildcard.
For instance, let's say you were using the STORET Data Entry Application characteristic search screen and needed
to search for a characteristic for clay. If in the Characteristic Name field you simply typed "CLAY", you wouldn't
get any choices. But if you typed "%CLAY%" you'd get a list of all the names with the word clay anywhere in the
characteristic name from which to choose. You can use this wildcard search method in any of the STORET applications,
including SIM, Report Module, and the Data Warehouse.
Is SIM able to handle concurrent users?
Yes. Set the SINGLE USER ENVIRONMENT entry under the System Configuration menu to "NO".
How are Legacy STORET Remark Codes handled in modern STORET?
The current STORET System doesn't support the old Remark Codes used when STORET was on the EPA Mainframe. Instead,
each concept is handled differently that still conveys the information handled with the Remark Code. Please read our guide to transferring information from Legacy Remark Codes to Modern STORET.
What GPS Method Code should I use?
The quick bottom line: If you bought it in a store, report code 16. If you paid extra for DGPS or WAAS, report code 14.
- STORET Method 012, GPS Carrier Phase Static Relative Position
- STORET Method 013, GPS Carrier Phase Kinematic Relative Position
- EPA Code 012, GPS carrier phase static relative positioning technique.
- EPA Code 013, GPS carrier phase kinematic relative positioning technique.
Carrier phase devices are typically professional surveying
instruments. The kinematic device can react in real time to
rapidly changing conditions. These are not hand-held units.
- STORET Method 014, GPS Code (Pseudo Range) Differential
- EPA Code 014, GPS code measurements (pseudo range) differential (DGPS)
This is a somewhat high end consumer device. Support for
Differential Mode and for WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation Service)
is offered as an "available" or "differential-ready" option, and
generally operational on store-bought units.
- STORET Method 016, GPS Code (Pseudo Range) Standard Position (SA Off)
- STORET Method 017, GPS Code (Pseudo Range) Standard Position (SA On)
- EPA Code 016. GPS code measurements (pseudo range) standard positioning service (SA Off)
- EPA Code 017, GPS code measurements (pseudo range) standard positioning service (SA On)
Standard consumer units will almost always use this technology in
off-the-shelf configuration. SA (Selective Availability) is
always off, and
has been since 2000.
- STORET Method 015, GPS Code (Pseudo Range) Precise Position
- EPA Code 015, GPS code measurements (pseudo range) precise positioning service
Precise Positioning Service (PPS) is available only to the
Civilian units will not use this technology.
How should I handle continuous (fixed) data logger information?
For continuous loggers with a set interval between "clicks", which typically operate for a short period following deployment
at a fixed site, you may at your option turn the operating period into a suite of field activities, each one representing a
single click of the device, with its date and time of day recorded, and the readings of all mounted probes as of that instant.
The down side's of this are two: the data entry process is fairly cumbersome and time consuming, and the resulting large number
of observations over a short period of time tends to bias any statistical analysis of the data, especially when such analysis
includes single site visit activities such as grab samples. STORET also currently has a limitation in that only 2000 activities
can exist for each operating period.
Our recommendation is to use the Oracle concept "Binary Large Object" (BLOB for short) instead in the "Document/Graphic" area of the database
and report this as a Portable Data Logger activity. In this case, you report to STORET
a single activity in which you record the summary statistics of the probe readings (Mean, Min, Max, etc.) and to which you attach
a binary object in the form of the flat text ".txt" file typically downloaded from the data logger. This works equally well for
the fixed data logger and for the so-called CTD cast, when the data logger is deployed off the side of a ship or pier, and allowed
to freely descend through the water column and report continuously the readings of its probes. The CTD typically also yields results
for thermocline, halocline, and pycnocline depths, which can be added to the results associated with the activity. An additional
comment could be included to indicate that this activity is a fixed data logger. The activity information and the "Document/Graphic"
file will be available on the STORET Warehouse after export to EPA.