FAQ

Home FAQ

What water data can be found through this website?

This site is just getting started! We aim to provide data on water quantity, water quality, and water use, at a minimum. Other data topics include climate, energy, ecosystems & wildlife, natural hazards, water planning, and infrastructure.

I have water data that I’d like to share, how do I do this?

Please contact us through the Contact tab. Ideally we wish to collect data that is digital, machine readable, open for sharing without restriction, and has clear definitions (data dictionary), and metadata. We will ask you to fill out a metadata form and select data TAGS (to help others find your data) when you submit the data. Data that is in spreadsheet format and other tabular formats are also accepted. A data dictionary is the text description of all the data fields (i.e. column headings or rows, and abbreviations used in the dataset). In addition to a data dictionary, we need to have this minimum of metadata: Who collected the data; What is the data about; Where is the data hosted; Over what time period does the data cover; and, For what purpose was the data collected?

What’s the difference between DATA and INFORMATION?

We define “water data” as the facts, the actual measurements or properties, whereas “information” is used to describe the assembly of water data in an interpretation, model or analysis. Water data are analogous to the building blocks, while information is the object that is constructed from those blocks. Water data may include reservoir levels, groundwater levels or measurements of arsenic in water, while the information we can gain from this type of data may be graphs of trends in levels or maps of locations where arsenic occurs.

How are you collaborating with others to accomplish this?

The most important collaboration in this effort thus far has been among the directing agencies, and agency partners. In the past it was difficult to share data between agencies, or even between divisions of a single agency. Communication and education on our data challenges and opportunities will continue to be a priority going forward. We are working closely with the Internet of Water, a project based out of Duke University. We are also in communications with the Western States Water Council as they work to improve the Water Data Exchange (WaDE). Also, as New Mexico works to build a 50-Year Water Plan, this water data service will continue to support the data needs, making the development of this plan more efficient.

Why is an API necessary? We already share data publicly on the web via downloadable Excel spreadsheets or Interactive Map tools.

In order for all of the state’s water data to be efficiently, accurately, and continuously integrated, agencies hosting data need to change how we all think about sharing data. Instead of “websites for humans” we need to be thinking about “web services for computers.” An API (an Application Programming Interface) is a tool that allows computers to talk to one another in a specific way so that each computer perfectly understands what the other is saying.  Behind the scenes, APIs are what make the web interactive and useful for people. The old methods of downloading spreadsheets or emailing data is cumbersome on the backend, meaning it requires a lot of manual human work involved. This human work introduces potential for gaps in data and error.

But how do I set up an API?

There are many ways to set up an API, and the solution for each agency may look different depending on their internal system. The good news is that APIs are everywhere, so there are many routes to solve this problem! The NM Water Data Initiative (NMWDI) suggests that agencies share their data via the SensorThings API. Setting up an API does require some technical IT expertise at a host agency, which may not be available right now. If your agency is interested in hosting their data via SensorThings but needs guidance on how to do this, please contact us and we can discuss paths forward.

Why is the Bureau doing this?

The NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources is a non-regulatory state agency, serving as the state geologic survey, and it is a research institution under NM Tech, with a long history of working with geologic and hydrologic data (for example, the Aquifer Mapping Program). The Bureau has worked with state water agencies such as the OSE/ISC and other research institutions such as UNM and the WRRI at NMSU for many years. The legislation that began this project recognized that the Bureau has a strategic role to play in making water data FAIR.

Does the NMWDI take the data?

The NMWDI is a conduit for data. Each agency is still responsible for their own data. That means each agency stores, manages, runs quality control and quality assurance, etc to meet their internal data standards. The NMWDI integrates the data that each agency wants to publicly share via an API.

How can I help?

Thank you for your interest in participating in this effort! You can donate your data, your time, or your resources to this important project in many ways. Please contact us so we can help best utilize your generosity.

Are we there yet?

There is no blueprint for how to do this – New Mexico is only the 2nd state in the country to have policy directing water data to be shared and interoperable. It is expected to take several years to develop the data catalog and platform for New Mexico’s Water Data. As we begin to bring water data into the open, we are better able to see where we have data, and where we do not. It will illuminate some of the issues we have with how our data are structured that will undoubtedly take some time to revise. It will be a process of taking steps in a forward direction, learning from those steps, revising the plan for the next steps – and moving forward. The more data we share, the more we can do with the data.
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