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Alaska Ambient Water Quality Data Information


This page contains information about how to submit Ambient Water Quality data to DEC.

Note: This information does not apply to APDES permits

I am interested in collecting ambient water quality data

An important step in collecting ambient water quality data is to understand that all data collected for DEC and EPA must have an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP) prior to collecting. Quality assurance Information

I need to submit data to DEC and EPA to fulfill an existing contract or agreement

DEC division of Water is implementing a new data storage system which will result in new data submission requirements requiring the use of a template beginning in FY11.

The template is an Excel workbook designed to greatly reduce data entry time and errors and is pre-formatted for loading into our Ambient Water Quality Monitoring System (AWQMS). Pre-formatting for AWQMS also ensures the data is compliant with EPA standards for loading to STORET, EPA’s central data warehouse for storing water quality data collected nation-wide by multiple agencies.

Please contact Amber Bethe at 907-269-7955 to acquire the data submission template, instructions and training on how to use the template.

I have data I want to voluntarily submit to DEC and EPA

DEC welcomes agencies and organizations to share data collected independently of the State of Alaska. The information found in the previous section applies to voluntarily submitted data as well as mandatory submissions. Please contact the Water Quality Data Manager, Amber Bethe at 907-269-7955 for more information.

What substances can be monitored for water quality?

There are over 3,000 substances or characteristics that can be tested for in water or about the environment affecting water which include chemical (such as mercury), biological (such as bacteria and other organisms), physical properties of the water (such as temperature, ph, dissolved oxygen), and miscellaneous substances not easily classified as any of the previous. In addition, field observations that may affect water quality can be collected and submitted (such as garbage in the water, dogs observed in the area, weather observations).

(Please note that only the exact values in the list are valid values. Changing so much as a space, a dash or removing a letter will render the value invalid)

What data fields do I need to collect and what are the valid values?

The fields collected vary according to what substances or characteristics are being collected. For instance, less data is required to report data logger data than is required to report microbiological sample data. The following downloads demonstrates the fields and values for the most commonly collected data. These values are subject to change to match EPA requirements.

I collected data under a previous agreement, what do I do?

You are still able to submit data using the old templates or formatting if you are a grantee from a prior year. However, you are encouraged to use the new templates as they greatly reduces the likelihood of errors. The old templates and related files are listed below. If you are collecting ambient water quality data after July 1, 2010, you will be required to use the new templates.

How does data get to EPA?

EPA has two systems for managing water quality data:

  1. The Water Quality Exchange (WQX) is the mechanism for data partners to submit water monitoring data to EPA
  2. The Water Quality Portal (WQP) is the mechanism for anyone, including the public, to retrieve water monitoring data from EPA.

DEC uses a database called the Ambient Water Quality Monitoring System (AWQMS) to house water, sediment, biological, physical habitat and related data collected throughout Alaska. AWQMS formats data so that it’s easily uploaded to WQX. DEC staff regularly push data from AWQMS to WQX, after which it is available through WQP. Check out the Alaska Water Quality Map to see what data can be found in AWQMS.

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