Project 5a: Create Storm Water Program Data and Information "Open Data"

California Open Data Portal - Storm Water Data

The Office of Information Management and Analysis (OIMA) is currently leading an open data initiative that includes all of the Water Boards’ existing data systems. STORMS Project 5a is a subproject of OIMA’s overarching initiative that aims to increase the amount of storm water data available through open data.

In April 2016, five datasets from the Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS) were published on the GreenGov Open Data Portal (GreenGov) launched by the Government Operations Agency (GovOps).  The metadata and data dictionaries developed as part of the project provide information that helps potential data users understand the published SMARTS datasets.  In September 1st, GovOps launched a new and improved portal, California Open Data Portal, along with the SMARTS datasets originally published on GreenGov. Below is the list of SMARTS datasets currently available on the California Open Data Portal:

More storm water datasets will be available on the California Open Data Portal in the future.

Project Contact Information

Project Lead:

Support Staff
Matthew Freese
(916) 341-5485

What's New

Update: 9/1/2016

In April and July 2016, the Water Boards published five datasets from the Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS) on the California Open Data Portal (See the Project Details tab for more information). Please provide any feedback regarding the published datasets through our STORMS Feedback Form, or by contacting the project manager.

Project Description


High, Assessment: Important, achievable with moderate barriers

Project Objective

Improve the flow (amount, quality, and accessibility) of data and information useful for storm water management entered into and flowing out of the Water Boards' existing data collection systems.


  1. Outflow: Develop and curate important datasets from existing data in Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS) and publish (and maintain) them in an open data manner. Types of data and information currently collected in Water Board databases include: permittee information (enrollment in general permit, co-permittees, type of facility, industry code, location, size, etc.), compliance evaluations (inspections, ad-hoc and annual report review, etc.), and enforcement actions (notices of violation, notices of non-compliance, formal enforcement, etc.).
  2. Inflow: Determine the minimum data requirements necessary to evaluate the performance of different Best Management Practices (BMPs) necessary to allow use of storm water as a resource. Develop data standards to promote consistency and interoperability across multiple data collection systems for projects implementing these BMPs.
  3. Complete flow: Conduct a pilot project using open data approaches to develop business needs, protocols, standards and workflow associated with collecting new data (i.e., data entry used in reporting inspection and enforcement), including the use of mobile devices and various users (regulators, dischargers, public).


“Open data” is defined generally as machine readable, fresh and well defined datasets that can be used, modified, and shared by parties interested in acquiring information and gaining knowledge for any purpose. The Water Boards' existing storm water data collection systems limit data-collaborative activities, thus limiting the Water Boards' ability to use data and information in daily decision making and program advancement processes. The limitations of our current data collection systems as multi-faceted: (1) hurdles to enter data into our existing data systems, like SMARTS, CIWQS and CEDEN; (2) obstacles to making changes to the data infrastructure to enhance openness; and (3) challenges to extracting data and information from the data systems, especially when using multiple sets of information simultaneously. The Water Boards' Office of Information Management and Analysis (OIMA) is currently leading an overarching open data project. OIMA provides support to this project.

Currently, there are multiple systems being used to "track" projects implementing storm water BMPs statewide.  At the Water Boards, data on BMPs are tracked using several systems such as SMARTS for permit-driven projects and CEDEN for some grant projects.  There are more systems being utilized to track BMP data outside the Water Boards.  Aggregating BMP data from multiple siloed data-collection systems can be difficult and time-consuming and consequently, challenging to compare the effectiveness of different BMPs.  Standards on representation, format, and definition for common data regardless of the source, will lead to efficiency in aggregating and making BMP data available in an open format.  The data standards and requirements will ensure that sufficient information is available for Water Boards to evaluate the performance of projects implementing storm water as a resource BMP and make data-driven regulatory and funding decisions.

Better availability of multiple types of datasets is potentially of greater use to staff performing field activities, both within the Water Board (e.g., inspections, complaint response, watershed investigations, etc.) and outside our organization (dischargers, consultants for dischargers, public advocacy groups, municipal "partners," other government agencies, etc.). The use of mobile devices and open data approaches can increase the availability of this data.  Moreover, there is the potential to combine open data with data collected by the person in the field.  This mobile application node, therefore, presents an opportunity to improve inflow and outflow of data resulting in improved decision making for the storm water program managers and others. In some cases, improved availability in the field may be achieved using existing Water Boards data systems. In other cases, data systems may need to be enhanced. In either case, development of consistent data needs, protocols, and requirements will ensure effective use of existing systems and support development of a business case for potential system enhancements.

Products and Timelines

Ongoing: Publish curated important datasets from SMARTS on an open data platform.

Summer 2017: 2017 Staff Report with Recommendations for Incorporating Open Data Concepts and Collaborative Activities for the Stormwater Program.

2019-2020: Develop data standards and requirements for collecting, managing, and storing information on projects implementing storm water as a resource BMPs.

Summer 2020 Years: Develop business needs, protocols, standards and workflow associated with collecting new data (i.e., data entry of fields used in reporting inspection and enforcement).