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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

General FAQs

WQX Requirements

Reporting Storm Related Data

General FAQs

What are the 20 Elements?

The 20 Elements (listed in DEP EAS-0101) are data elements required effective June 10, 2003 for any data submitted to FDEP for TMDL consideration in order to assure the data that is used for TMDL decisions is of known quality. EPA STORET does not currently accept all of the 20 Elements so our FL STORET group has created DEP SIM to enable the loading of the data.

What are STORET and SIM?

STORET - an acronym for STORage and RETrieval database - is the database currently used by FDEP to capture, store, and report chemical, physical, and biological water quality data. Florida STORET is the primary application used by the FDEP in support of IWR assessments and the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and it also provides data crucial to many other programs, including the development of water quality criteria and Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), to name just a few.

Florida maintains two identical STORET databases; Florida STORET, and FDEP STORET. Florida STORET contains data collected by non-FDEP organizations and submitted to FDEP. FDEP STORET contains data collected by FDEP staff or FDEP contractors. Data from both databases are stored in the STORET Warehouse and are available for download from the Florida STORET web retrieval site.

SIM – an acronym for STORET Import Module - is a software program that quickly and conveniently load data into STORET. SIM allows the data loader to describe the format of the data being imported, ensures that the data are consistent with STORET’s requirements, and migrates the data into the STORET database.

Are all basin groups affected in the current 5-year cycle by the new data element requirement?

Yes.  As all basins have gone through a full 5-year rotation, data generators for every Group are now affected.

Where can I view a map of the basin groupings?

The Basin411 website has a map of the current basin groupings.

WQX Requirements

What is WQX?

The Water Quality Exchange (WQX) is a new framework that makes it easier for States, Tribes, and others to submit and share water quality monitoring data over the Internet. States, Tribes and other organizations can now submit data directly to the publicly-accessible STORET Data Warehouse using the WQX framework. The STORET Data Warehouse continues to be the repository for all modern STORET data and now also is the new home for data submitted through WQX. The local copy of STORET that you have on your computer is EPA’s distributed STORET Database. WQX has replaced the distributed STORET Database as the primary means of submitting water quality monitoring data to EPA. Although EPA no longer utilizes the distributed STORET Database, FDEP is still using it and you will need to maintain your local copy of the distributed STORET Database to continue to upload data to FDEP.

How does WQX work?

WQX is a framework that uses data and internet standards to submit ambient water quality monitoring data to the STORET Warehouse. WQX uses the standards of the National Environmental Information Exchange Network to facilitate data sharing with EPA. The WQX schema is a standard set of data formats that specify the data elements and data structure required for submission of data to EPA. Data are submitted by FDEP to the WQX system using XML in the format of the WQX schema. WQX data come in to EPA through the Central Data Exchange (CDX). The WQX database receives the data after they are processed to fit into the database format. The data are then placed into the National STORET Data Warehouse, where they can be accessed for data retrieval through the STORE T Warehouse query application, the STORET web services, EPA mapping applications such as EnvironMapper for Water and MyEnvironment, and other applications built for data access.

Will FDEP continue to submit my data to EPA?

Yes, FDEP will continue to submit data to EPA that has been uploaded into Florida-STORET. In the past, Florida-STORET data was loaded to EPA STORET once every year. With the new structure of WQX, the goal is to load each new dump file to Florida-STORET and then upload the data to WQX. This will mean that there will be more efficient and timely data submittal through Florida-STORET to EPA. We will continue to fulfill any obligation to submit your data to EPA.

How does EPA’s change to WQX affect the Florida Data Provider community?

This does not significantly change any current process you are doing to submit data to Florida-STORET. We will continue to use Florida-STORET as Florida’s state-wide water quality database and will continue to submit your data to EPA. STORET and WQX have some differences in loading requirements. During the loading process, we have been and will be contacting some of you for assistance with preparing your data for WQX, based on the new requirements of WQX. Our goal is to make this a more efficient process for both the data providers to Florida-STORET and for Florida-STORET to WQX.

Where can I find the new data requirements for WQX?

Available soon.

What is the new data checker category “WQX Checks”?

The new data checker category “WQX Checks” includes data checks for the new WQX data requirements. This gives the data provider an opportunity to check that your data meets the new WQX requirements prior to sending it to FDEP for upload through Florida-STORET to EPA’s WQX dbase.  Download the checker and instructions here.

Why does our data get submitted to WQX?

Water quality monitoring is a crucial aspect to protecting water resources. State, Tribal, and Federal agencies must monitor lakes, streams, rivers, and other types of water bodies to assist them in determining water quality condition. From these monitoring activities, water quality monitoring data are generated. These data are used to help water resource managers to determine where pollution problems exist, where we need to focus our pollution control energies, and where we’ve made progress. Data is submitted to WQX for multiple reasons:

  1. to aid EPA in its mission to protect human health and the environment
  2. to aid EPA in development and enforcement of regulations
  3. to fulfill Federal funding requirements set forth by EPA
  4. to make data publically available

How do I know my data have been submitted to EPA?

To view your data in WQX, go to the EPA STORET website and select your Organization_ID that has _WQX appended to it. For example: 21FLA_WQX is the Organization_ID used to search data uploaded to WQX for the Organization 21FLA. Both Organization_IDs (21FLA, 21FLA_WQX) are available as a choice to retrieve data from the EPA STORET Warehouse. For data submitted to EPA prior to October 1, 2009, one would search by using the Organization_ID, as an example, 21FLA. For data submitted to EPA after October 1, 2009, one would search by using the Organization_ID, 21FLA_WQX.

My agency submits data to FDEP and also to EPA. Will my data be duplicated at EPA?

Yes , FDEP uploads to EPA all data submitted to Florida-STORET. It is not necessary to upload your data to both Florida-STORET and to EPA. We will continue to submit all data submitted to Florida-STORET. It is recommended that data providers submit data to Florida-STORET only. We will upload your data to WQX with little to no lag time to ensure any data submittal obligation you may have with EPA is fulfilled.

Are the data for Modernized STORET and WQX in the same database, but separate schemas or two different databases all together?

"Modernized STORET", or data submitted using the old distributed version of the STORET database continues to reside in the STORET Warehouse, and as you know, EPA no longer accepts data from the distributed version. When EPA did still accept this data, they compiled it in a master STORET copy before completely rebuilding the STORET Warehouse. Before WQX, the STORET Warehouse was completely rebuilt every month. Now with WQX, they incrementally update the Warehouse based on the transactions over the previous week.

WQX data comes into EPA’s transactional WQX database, before being Extracted, Transferred, and Loaded (ETL) weekly into the STORET Warehouse. So, modernized data from the distributed STORET database and WQX data from the WQX data flow eventually both reside in the STORET Warehouse, which is one database with one schema. The STORET Warehouse schema was originally built to house data from the distributed STORET database, and now that we have WQX, they've had to modify/add to it in order to accommodate areas of the WQX format that are new (e.g. biological metrics).

The WQX data flow is outlined in a WQX fact sheet.

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Reporting Storm Related Data

My area has been affected by recent hurricane activity. What steps should be taken to appropriately notate my sample data?

Hurricanes may have a significant impact on water quality monitoring in the State of Florida. As a result of the conditions these storms leave in their path, much of the water quality data collected in Florida could be affected. FDEP is requesting that our data providers use the words “HURRICANE “ or “TROPICAL STORM” (all CAPS, no abbr. or quotations) in the Result_Comment field where results may have been affected by storm conditions. The result value should be qualified by entering an R in the value qualifier field when samples are collected during or within 48 hours of the storm event. When an R is entered in the value qualifier field you should also enter **R** in the result comment field in addition to any other value qualifiers that may be reported (2 examples: **RI**, **RTJ**). The Result_Comment might look like this: **RTJ** HURRICANE. It may also be informative to include specific information such as the name of the storm.

For data collected for hurricane-specific projects, FDEP is requesting that “HURR “be provided as the first 4 characters of the Project_ID (8-character field).

How does my agency know what data should be notated as “HURRICANE” data, and for what duration should this be applied?

It is up to the agency’s discretion as to which data should be considered hurricane-affected. We recommend notating any samples for which you believe the results are significantly different due to the hurricanes. For example, data taken from an area that was within the track of a hurricane for the month following would be reasonable.

We just had a significant amount of rain but not considered a hurricane or tropical storm. How should I report my data?

When samples are collected during or within 48 hours of a significant rainfall event, the result value should be qualified by entering an R in the value qualifier field. When an R is entered in the value qualifier field you should also enter **R** in the result comment field. It is optional, but may be informative, to include specific information about the storm event.

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Last updated: June 30, 2015

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