Water Quality Interoperability Experiment

For more information please contact innovation@ogc.org

Get involved in the initiative! The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is issuing this call for participation and collecting proposals for the OGC Water Quality Interoperability Experiment (WQ IE). 

What’s it about?

Clean water is a precious commodity and the basis of life for humans and animals. Contaminated groundwater can negatively impact entire ecosystems. It can be contaminated by bacteria, viruses or chemicals and make people ill. This makes it all the more important to monitor water quality on a regular basis. 

This is a complex process in which countless data are collected in various systems. In order to be able to react quickly to possible fluctuations in water quality, these systems and databases must be linked together. 

This is why the OGC is launching the Water Quality IE – WQ IE project. It will drive the development of the WaterML 2.0 suite of standards in the area of water quality data. The WaterML 2.0 standards suite facilitates the exchange of hydrologic data between different organizations, systems, and applications.  

The Water Quality IE will test the interoperability and connectivity of existing water quality data systems. Participants will identify how to support the development of WaterML 2.0 in the water quality domain. Taxonomies/ontologies related to water quality will be improved and interfaces (APIs) will be found and used. The OGC and the World Meteorological Organization want to develop and recognize an international standard and/or best practice for the exchange of water quality data.

Applications of this standard include data exchange between local authorities and regional or national environmental agencies. Specific use cases such as the presentation of regularly collected water samples and measurement results are critical to the success of the IE and will be defined as part of the IE.


This IE is open to the public. A requirement for participation is to provide resources. Technical experts from non-OGC organizations may be participants in the IE. Other individuals from non-OGC organizations may participate in the IE as observers. Any OGC member may register as an observer.

Participants and observers will join the founding organizations of the IE. The founding organizations are:


Since 2008, members of the OGC/WMO Hydrology Domain Working Group have been working to develop WaterML 2.0 standards for the transmission of a wide range of water information. Merging water quality data enables better management of water resources and depends on the use of common semantics (vocabularies/taxonomies) and technical scenarios.

In addition, water quality data sharing at the global and national levels is currently limited. Common international standards and practices are lacking. In addition, there are different responsibilities between agencies at the national level. Some procedures already exist, mostly on a country-by-country basis (e.g., US WQX, French Sandre, etc.), with the exception of EU environmental water reporting (EU WFD/WISE and EIONET-related reporting). However, in most cases, these practices are not based on current internationally agreed semantic and technical interoperability practices (OGC, W3C, RDA).

The establishment of international standards for water quality data will lead to a significant improvement in the availability of water quality information on a global scale. This will allow much more effective development actions to be taken to protect groundwater.

The IE will build on the following elements:

Participants propose to review existing OGC standards for general use cases for water quality data exchange. Consensus will be reached with a broad community (WMO, RDA, others) on how to express observational and sampling information on water quality.

The interoperability experiment will provide an engineering report that identifies opportunities to leverage existing technologies. WaterML2 best practices for water quality will be updated to set the stage for a WMO-supported water quality data exchange standard (including common variables).


The objectives of this IE include the following:

  1. Expand and complement the existing work of the HDWG with the goal of advancing the development of the WaterML 2.0 suite of standards for the water quality monitoring subset.
  2. Develop a common understanding of the dimensions of interoperability required for key use cases involving water quality data for surface and groundwater.
  3. Design and test data exchange mechanisms and vocabularies that meet the needs of participating organizations and systems.
  4. Finalize an ER in the form of a best practice or standard, depending on IE results.
  5. Improve interoperability between in situ and remotely sensed water quality data.

Organizational Use Cases

The following initiatives form the basis for the organizational use cases to be considered in the IE:

The above high-level organizational use cases provide the general framework for the IE, but ultimately the experiment will address specific water quality use cases. The specific definition of these use cases will be established as the first component of the experiment. Potential water quality use cases include:


Hydrology, Marine, OGC APIs, Water

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