Water Data Initiative

Join us in our Integrated Water Data Initiative!

The regulation and management of our water resources are based on outdated and inferior data.

water data digital elevation model comparison

Upcoming Events

The Fourth Annual Water Data Workshop is entitled “Defining the Plan for PA Hydrography: 2018-2022”, and the results will form the basis for development of PA’s next generation surface water mapping. Similar to previous workshops, participants will learn in a morning of technical presentations to set the stage for afternoon breakouts in which their work and ideas will be the products. An exciting addition this year is a second workshop in Western PA. 

  • East meeting - January 25, 2018; SRBC Conference facility, Harrisburg
  • West meeting - February 1, 2018; SPC conference facility, Pittsburgh
  • Download Announcement (pdf)


There is no charge for the workshop. PaMAGIC will provide a working lunch, and if needed we can charge $5 for those state employees unable to accept free lunch. Technical briefings will start promptly at 10 AM, so plan to arrive by 9:30 and meet your fellow participants. RSVP and questions to Eric Jespersen.


Goal – Development and widespread use of a comprehensive and consistent surface water database for the Commonwealth:

  • Objective – Designed as default and authoritative surface water basemap for the Commonwealth.
  • Objective –Spatially compatible with current mapping such as PAMAP imagery and LiDAR.
  • Objective –Includes man-made stormwater infrastructure and other ephemeral flow features.
  • Objective –Provides reference frame for regulatory and analytical studies, modeling and data.
  • Objective –Serves as the basis for data catalog applications and regulatory simplification.


Why now?We are at a crossroads of landscape changes, enhanced technology, and decreased budget:

  • Our surface water data is incompatible with our other modern base mapping, and there are no budgetary plans to complete the development that halted in 2008.
  • Flooding remains our largest hazard and oil/gas related activities are changing the landscape, and management of both is negatively impacted by not having accurate water data.
  • We cannot integrate stormwater in our surface water models at current scales.
  • Readily available technologies make it possible to work collaboratively on large initiatives.
  • A study of data availability and type is a good vehicle for identifying and fixing inadvertent regulatory complexity and inefficiencies.


Milestones – This project is tentatively defined for a six-year execution and will require creative and complex funding, will cause shifts in regulatory programs, and will benefit from planning and foresight about the water resource beyond normal political and budgetary cycles.

  •     2013-2014: Concept Development, Promotion and Initial Definition
  •     2014 : Initiative Support/Partner Recruitment/Champion Development
  •     2015: Pilot Data Development/Funding Consolidation
    • Data Model Investigations
    • Digital Permit Data Demonstration
    • Pilot Data Development – Lancaster County
    • Supporting Data Evaluation – SPC Region
  • 2016 – 2019: Infrastructure Setup/Data Production/Quality Control/Application Development


Skills Needed – Geodatabase design, application development, data standards implementation, grant writing, regional promotion/collaboration, and legislative advocacy.

Initiative Contacts –     Eric Jespersen, President – PaMAGIC; e-mail Eric; 717-475-7869

            Scott Hoffman, USGS PA Water Science Center GIS Specialist; e-mail Scott


Background Documents

2014 Integrated Water Data Initiative Work Plan

What Data do we Base our Science Upon??

Unified Water Planning Basemap Enables...

Water is the Keystone

Floodplain and Stormwater Management Reunited

Musing about PA State Water Planning

Our Unfinished Base Map

In Support of Investing in PA Water Data



Report - NHD Support Pilot - Technical, October 2016

Report - NHD Support Pilot - Overview, October 2016

Report of Data Maintenance Workshop - January 7, 2016

Report of Budget Workshop - December 17, 2014