Towards better management of water quality data: metadata guidelines to improve application to the real world

Rob De Hayr, Grant Robinson, Linton Johnston and Kemachandra Ranatunga - Department Science, IT and Innovation QLD, AHA, Bureau of Meteorology , 28 June, 2018

The National Industry Guideline for water quality metadata was published in May 2016. It provides a nationally recommended and consistent approach to describing metadata for the collection, storage and analysis of water quality data. Metadata is structured information that describes or provides context for data and is essential for understanding data and its limitations.

This guideline provides guidance about mandatory and optional metadata elements and describes data entities (or groupings) that are meaningful and pragmatic for hydrographical, laboratory and hydrologic practitioners.

The guideline is applicable to both automated continuous water quality monitoring (e.g. using in-situ sensors or probes), tests performed in the field and grab samples sent for laboratory testing.

Implementation of the guideline will facilitate consistent collection of metadata, and will improve the interoperability, quality and future usefulness of water quality data.

The guideline was developed with Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) funding and led by the former Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. The authors collaborated with national industry experts and practitioners to produce current guidance appropriate to Australian conditions, and were cognisant of the range of relevant national and international standards.

Extensive industry input and consultation has been a feature of the development and review processes for the guideline. A Technical Reference Group significantly contributed to final review and redrafting of the guideline which was subsequently endorsed by the Water Monitoring Standardisation Technical Committee (WaMSTeC) and published by the Bureau.

National Industry Guidelines can be considered as living documents. The status of endorsed guidelines is periodically reviewed by WaMSTeC at intervals of no greater than five years.