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The Water Resources Data System (WRDS)


The Water Resources Data System (WRDS) is a clearinghouse of hydrological and climatological data for the State of Wyoming. WRDS offers a wide variety of products and services to its users, including retrievals for water resources information from in-house databases, CD-ROM products, and alternate data systems. WRDS is actively migrating its databases to the World Wide Web (WWW) for online access, such as the Wyoming Water Bibliography, the Water Quality database, and the Well Levels database. Cooperative data posting efforts with federal and state agencies in Wyoming have led to additional water resources information being disseminated through the site. Online data may be accessed at the following Uniform Resource Locator (URL):

WRDS is funded by an allocation from the Wyoming Water Development Commission and is housed in the University of Wyoming's Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. Through an understanding of the data and the needs of our users, WRDS strives to provide the most comprehensive compilation of water resource information available. WRDS processes hundreds of user requests each year, while thousands more visit the WRDS web site for online information.


During the late 1960's, the need for Wyoming streamflow records in computerized format was recognized by the Water Planning Program of the Wyoming State Engineer's Office. The Water Resources Research Institute received a grant to begin manual loading of US Geological Survey surface water records for the state. As part of the project, both listing and analysis programs were written to display and summarize the data. In subsequent years, the State Engineer's Office helped fund the acquisition of other climatological and hydrological data sets. System managers established ties with other state and regional data warehouses to provide increased capabilities and services to users.

As in the past, WRDS programmers continue to add additional analyses and graphics capabilities to the system. They also ensure that the system undergoes hardware and software upgrades as computer technology advances.

WRDS offers a variety of products and services. In-house databases provide requesters long-term hydrological and climatological data for hundreds of locations throughout the state. A library of CD-ROM data products supplements the request process and expands the geographical area of data coverage. Similarly, access through cooperative agreements to numerous federal and state agencies further augments the amount of data available to requesters. Finally, cooperative data posting efforts on with federal and state agencies have resulted in additional water resources information available through the system.


Six unique databases comprise WRDS: surface water, climate, water quality, well water levels, snow course and The Wyoming Water Bibliography. Each of the databases contains specific unique data elements, collecting agencies, periods of record, and frequencies of collection.


Data from 13 different source agencies, representing more than 1,500 locations are resident in this database. The major source for the information is the US Geological Survey. WRDS also houses data from agencies such as the US Bureau of Reclamation, Wyoming State Engineer's Office, and the former Wyoming Water Resources Center. Typical data elements include: average daily streamflows and instantaneous peak flows in cubic feet per second, and reservoir storage contents in acre-feet.


Information for more than 800 locations may be found in this database. It is the single, largest collection of Wyoming climatological information. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is the primary source of the data which includes maximum, minimum and average temperatures, precipitation, snowfall, snow depth, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, wet and dry bulb temperatures, dewpoint temperatures, evaporation, wind speed, wind direction, and maximum, minimum and mean evaporation pan temperatures. The frequency of data collection (hourly, 3-hourly, 6-hourly, daily) and the availability of each of the parameters varies by station location and collecting agency. Manual data loading efforts have captured many of the earliest records (1890's-1920's) in digital format.

Supplementing the data are National Weather Service (NWS) monthly cooperator forms which detail daily climatological observations at each of the observing sites. These "hard copy" forms exist for many of the stations back to the early 1900's and contain numerous remarks not available in any database. The observer's remarks provide us with a context for the observed values. Working with the five National Weather Service offices with jurisdiction in Wyoming (Cheyenne and Riverton, Wyoming; Salt Lake City, Utah; Billings, Montana; and Rapid City, South Dakota), WRDS continues to receive these forms on a monthly basis.


Data for more than 38,000 locations are resident in this database and include both daily and grab water quality samples from surface water and groundwater sites throughout the state. While the primary source of the data is the US Geological Survey, data for more than 80 different collecting agencies may be found in the Water Quality database. More than 800 different parameters are available for retrieval, including: biological, chemical and physical attributes.

Acquisition of data through ongoing cooperative arrangements has led to many additional data sets being incorporated into the database. WRDS receives data in numerous formats and on a variety of media types. With the assistance of water quality experts in the state, each of the data sets goes though a process of quality assurance and quality control.

WRDS restructured the database to handle the newly acquired information as well as the historic data set. The first step in restructuring the database was to develop an online interface that allowed users ready access to the data. WRDS accomplished this through the use of the Oracle database management system and World Wide Web technology. The resulting product represented the first WRDS database to be migrated to the web environment.


The Well Water Levels database housed data for more than 6,000 locations collected from numerous agencies. The primary source for the information is the U.S. Geological Survey. Typical data elements include: daily and grab samples of static water level and yield. Driller's log information is also available for some of the wells.


The Snow Course database contains data for more than 240 locations representing manual snow survey information as collected by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Data sets include: monthly samples (January - June) of snow depth, water equivalent, and density. Daily data from automated snow survey sites are available through alternate database systems.


During the request process, information may be needed which is available through other water information systems. WRDS has access agreements with numerous state and federal water resource agencies for the purpose of retrieving data from their databases. This access requires an actual login account and password with each of the agencies, and the use of a Telnet. WRDS has sought access to these alternative systems because many agencies have only a small fraction of their holdings available on the web.

Cooperative agreements are in place with the following agencies:


WRDS has established a World Wide Web site for cooperative data postings by federal and state agencies having valuable Wyoming water resource data and information to disseminate, but lacking the mechanism to do so. WRDS received numerous inquiries for these products and regularly contacted the various agencies to obtain the information for our requesters. Through cooperative efforts, the agencies make the information available to WRDS for posting on the web. Now, WRDS requesters and agency personnel are free to access the information from the site anytime they choose. WRDS works with the following agencies to provide information on the Net:


WRDS receives requests for data from a broad range of sectors, including federal and state agencies, counties, municipalities, educational institutions, private firms, industry, and private citizens. Reasons for requests are as diverse as the requesting population. Some requesters use WRDS to gather data for research, construction, event planning, litigation, industrial siting, agriculture, commerce, or environmental assessments.


For more information, you can write to use at the following address:

Water Resources Data System
Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering
University of Wyoming
PO Box 3943
Laramie, Wyoming 82071

Or get in touch with us by phone, FAX or e-mail at the following numbers:

Phone: (307) 766-6651
Fax: (307) 766-3785

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