Much like solving a mystery, making informed water management decisions in California involves finding and investigating all necessary information. With data scattered across multiple locations, the process of accessing and analyzing the information can be an arduous task. To remedy this challenge, California passed the Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755) in 2016 calling for the creation of a “statewide integrated water data platform” to help inform water management decisions. Analyzing 12 existing water data platforms, a new study from Stanford’s Water in the West Program informs development and implementation of water data tools, like the one required under AB 1755, finding clear plans and cooperation among essential players are key to successful adoption.“While a variety of data platforms have been created to help water management decisions, not all are successful,” said lead author Tara Moran, sustainable groundwater lead at Stanford’s Water in the West Program. “We wanted to study how these tools are developed and implemented to pinpoint the factors contributing to their success, as well as identify common challenges.”Using a combination of analysis methods including document review, meeting observations and interviews, the researchers initially followed the development and implementation of two water data platforms: the Shasta Operations for Winter Run and the Groundwater Recharge Assessment Tool. In order to ensure their findings were consistent with other tools, the researchers analyzed an additional 10 water data platforms.The researchers found keys to successful water data platforms often include legislative support, clear development plans with milestones and long-term funding to support and maintain tools over time. Additionally finding a “champion” who can advocate for the tool can help foster platform adoption long-term.