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Portland, OR—Water, water everywhere, right? It sure seems like it rains a lot here, but only two-and-a-half percent of Oregon is covered with water. And while that may not seem like much, water plays a huge role in the life of every Oregonian.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for ensuring that all this surface and groundwater water – rivers and streams across the state – is safe and healthy for a variety of uses such as drinking water, recreation, fish habitat and irrigation.

That involves sampling, analysis and data – lots of data. DEQ's laboratory staff collect and analyze water, tissue and sediment samples from locations across the state year-round, and use this data to prepare reports, fact sheets, and interactive maps. All of this data is stored in the agency's Ambient Water Quality Monitoring System – or AWQMS – a web-based data repository. This system currently holds data back to 2013 and is key to the storage and accessibility of water quality data throughout Oregon.

The system AWQMS replaced a web based application, known as the Laboratory Analytical Storage and Retrieval tool, or LASAR Web, was an aging system implemented in early part of the century for the storage water quality data. As with any computer system that has an older programing language, lack of interoperability with other systems, and security vulnerabilities, the age of LASAR Web finally caught up to it.

DEQ installed and launched AQWQMS all within the summer of 2017 using in-house resources. Additionally it happened on time and within budget, using an off-the-shelf application that powers water quality systems in many other states. DEQ laboratory staff spent time, as part of the implementation, converting data from the previous system, and performing mapping of data to the standards used within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Water Quality Portal network, ensuring interoperability with the federal system.

Not only does AWQMS provide a more modern and stable way to store the water quality data of Oregon, it also provides a better way for Oregonians to view it. Access to the database is open, so groups and individuals around the state — local soil and water conservation districts, watershed councils, citizen scientists and more — all have access to DEQ's data through its public portal. Use of the site is free as well.

AWQMS features an easy-to-use graphical interface that makes it very accessible for new users. Training tutorials, produced by DEQ laboratory staff, help walk users through the variety of ways users can search the site to obtain data.

Check out AWQMS:

Matthew Van Sickle, Public Affairs, DEQ, 503-229-6044,


Environment & Energy