Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
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.
What is WQX?
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
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?
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:
- to aid EPA in its mission to protect human health and the environment
- to aid EPA in development and enforcement of regulations
- to fulfill Federal funding requirements set forth by EPA
- 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,
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
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.
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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