In California, water quality assessment information is currently reported via a FoxPro (DOS) system known as the WaterBody System (WBS). WBS does not have a spatial component, and therefore users typically enter information for large named water courses. Several states, including California, have developed links from WBS waterbodies to EPA River Reach File (RF3-alpha) features, spatially referencing WBS to an existing nationwide hydrography layer. This spatial referencing step, however, has typically occurred after local scientists and resource managers entered assessment information into the WBS.
In order to improve water quality reporting, the University of California, Davis (UCD) Information Center for the Environment (ICE) has developed GeoWBS, a customized graphical user interface using ArcView and the Dialog Designer Extension that allows users entering water quality assessment information to better spatially define waterbodies. This system links the assessment information to RF3-alpha, permits direct SQL connectivity to the underlying WBS architecture, and helps standardize user input. Starting in 1998, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) scientists will be trained to use the system and will report their assessments on more spatially refined waterbodies. Consequently, the water quality assessment information reported to EPA will be more spatially precise, queriable through a graphical interface, and will likely result in improved water quality monitoring, reporting, and policy-setting.