(Techwire) -- Plans to create a statewide water data platform for California are coming into focus.
This spring the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly submitted a budget proposal that would put $2.9 million in fiscal year 2017-18 and more than $2 million each year thereafter toward the platform's development and maintenance.
The proposal includes support for eight staff, purchasing of technology solutions and vendor resources.
The plan said it's "critical" that the state of California hire outside professional services to work on the project.
"Developing in-house technical expertise will be a key goal in the long term and will be incorporated in the scopes of work for any IT development contracts. In the first two years of implementation, however, professional services must be retained to support successful implementation and ongoing operation and maintenance of a statewide integrated water data platform," the proposal said.
Legislation signed in 2016, the Open and Transparent Water Data Act, requires the creation of the data platform.
"AB 1755 creates a statewide water data information system to integrate critical water data in a user-friendly, publicly accessible website," said the bill's author, state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa.
The bill stipulates the data platform will be in operation by September 2019. With that in mind, the state plans to develop Request for Proposals (RFPs) during the 2017-18 year, and release the bid proposals by April 2018 for a competitive selection process.
The legislation also calls for a provision that "information technology tools and applications developed and gathered using state funds should be made publicly accessible" and that open source tools could avoid the need to build an "expensive" new centralized database.
The system will integrate multiple databases managed independently by federal, state, and local agencies and academia "using consistent and standardized formats," AB 1755 says. The system will present data sets such as State Water Project or Central Valley Project operations information, groundwater use, groundwater levels, urban water use and land use; data on water rights, water diversions and water quality; and many others.
“The drought has exposed the need for a modern water information system to address the state’s water supply,” Dodd said in a press release. “California does not suffer from a lack of water data, but from a lack of usable water data needed to make smart decisions. This bill will create instant and accessible water information that will better enable water managers to cope with future drought conditions.”
Dodd noted that AB 1755 is supported by the the Association of California Water Agencies, Metropolitan Water District, the Environmental Defense Fund and the California Chamber of Commerce, among other groups.
This article was originally published on Techwire.