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STORET logo 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. top

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. top

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 ( You can also reach a STORET coordinator in each of the 10 EPA Region offices. top

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. top

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. top

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. top

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. top

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. top

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. top

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. top

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 or transfer the files via FTP at The latter process still requires sending an email to stating that the export was placed on the FTP site. top

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. top

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. top

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: Reference Tables for the Legacy Data Center are available here: Note that the current STORET System no longer maintains a list of unique "parameter" codes for each substance. top

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. top

Is SIM able to handle concurrent users?

Yes. Set the SINGLE USER ENVIRONMENT entry under the System Configuration menu to "NO". top

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. top

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.

Method Codes


  • 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 is not 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 their 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 military. 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. top


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