Electronic Drinking Water Report
States have the primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing the drinking water standards promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Most of the laboratory data a State Drinking Water Programs receives is in hardcopy paper documents that must then be manually entered into the state's information system. The number and complexity of EPA mandates on state drinking water programs, as well as the need for states to make better decisions regarding the environment and public health, necessitates that states improve efficiency, through the use of electronic technologies to satisfy regulatory reporting obligations.
A five state team developed and implemented an electronic data exchange from laboratories to the State Drinking Water Programs using the Exchange Network as its foundation. The states developed an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema for the submission of drinking water data from laboratories to state drinking water programs. The XML schema is broad enough to accommodate all types of drinking water data, but also allows states to implement only those pieces that are appropriate for their individual state needs. The states worked closely with EPA to ensure that the schemas conformed to the Safe Drinking Water Information System State-implementation assistance product (SDWIS), an EPA database that helps states manage their drinking water resources.
The project advanced the understanding of participant states in electronic data transfer technologies and tools. The eDWR project developed and is implementing a process of electronically flowing drinking water data from laboratories to state program offices. This effort will reduce the reporting burden on the regulated community and result in a higher level of data quality by eliminating the need for multiple data entry. Additionally, participant states worked to ensure that the data exchange schemas can be expanded to accommodate other laboratory to state data exchanges - further improving the quality and timeliness of state environmental data.