STORET is evolving. To keep pace with developing technologies and Agency wide approaches, EPA will be making significant changes to the STORET model of data sharing. In the past, EPA has distributed the STORET database and a suite of data entry and retrieval tools to our partners, and use of the database has been the sole means to share data with the Agency. Over the next 3 years, EPA will phase out this approach. Through this transition period, EPA will continue to support both approaches for sharing data with EPA. At the end of the transition period, STORET as presently implemented will no longer be supported. EPA is committed to working with our data partners through this transition. This page provides information on the coming changes and on the transition from the use of STORET to the adoption of this new approach - tentatively being called the Water Quality Exchange (WQX).
What is WQX?
WQX is a future production water quality data flow that will facilitate water quality data submission and exchange between EPA and its data partners.
WQX consists of standard data formats for sharing data with EPA, a centralized national database, and enhancement of the existing STORET/WQX Data Warehouse, where information is accessed using the internet.
The WQX formats are a set of standard 'schema' using Extensible Markup Language (XML) to provide various classes of data. A schema is simply a defined group of data elements that is organized in a set structure. XML provides a format for transferring the structured data by including a tag on each data element that identifies what element is included. XML files are text documents that apply this tagging approach.
As a part of this new system for data sharing EPA will develop a number of tools and services to facilitate its use. This will include a tool for the generation of XML files, web submittals of data, and enhanced web services for data retrieval.
The Evolution of STORET
The evolution of STORET to WQX will bring the system in line with the Agency's Enterprise Architecture approach and will take advantage of new technologies. The Enterprise Architecture defines an overall plan for the development of information technology in order to maximize coordination of EPA's investments. An important part of the architecture is that data should be sent to EPA using a national data Exchange Network and EPA's Central Data Exchange (CDX). CDX then moves the data to various databases. The evolution to WQX will bring the STORET system in line with this approach. It will also transition the system to the use of EPA's Environmental Sampling, Analysis, and Results (ESAR) standard, which gives consistent names and definitions to common data elements that are used across the Agency.
WQX will also adopt the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) for transferring data. The use of this relatively new technology for data sharing will simplify the transfer of data by providing a standard structure that can be checked for completeness.
For more background information on these topics, click on the following links:
OWWQX Pilot Information
EPA has recently completed a successful OWWQX Pilot program (Office of Water WQX) to test the draft XML schema for chemical/physical data, the transfer of data through the system, and the general concepts behind WQX. The pilot provided valuable lessons learned and a solid proof of concept for the new approach to sharing water quality data. As a follow up, EPA is working with our partners to finalize the WQX schema for chemical and physical data. A second pilot for biological and habitat data is planned for late 2006 to early 2007. For pilot-related products and additional pilot information, see the Additional Information section.
WQX Implementation Schedule
The evolution of STORET to WQX will be a gradual process. Support for STORET will continue over the next few years to give our data partners time to adjust and adopt the new approach. For a detailed schedule of the transition and for the development of tools to be used with WQX, click on the following link:
Click here to proceed to the STORET / WQX Schedule page.
There are a growing number of documents which explain and expand on the information presented regarding WQX. They include details on the OWWQX Pilot and the draft WQX schema for chemistry and physical data. These and other supporting documents may be downloaded by clicking on the following link:
Click here to proceed to the STORET / WQX Downloads page.