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Nonpoint Source Water Pollution

Nonpoint Source > Watershed Assessment > Impaired Waters - Integrated Report > External Data and Listings > What is the External Data Framework? What is the External Data Framework?

The external data framework was developed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Office of Water Quality (OWQ) to provide a systematic, transparent and voluntary process for external organizations to submit their water quality data for consideration in various OWQ programs. The external data framework describes OWQ policy regarding the agency use of external data, the guidelines for submitting data and the technical assistance necessary to facilitate greater collaboration between OWQ and external parties.

OWQ recognizes that numerous universities, municipalities, watershed groups and grassroots organizations throughout the state participate in water monitoring activities. There are also regulated facilities that conduct monitoring above and beyond their permits requirements. OWQ’s external data process provides a framework for greater collaboration with all external parties to help meet the goal of improving and protecting Indiana’s water resources.

The external data framework was developed to meet the requirements of Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Section 303(d) requires that states consider all existing and readily available water quality data and related information in developing their 303(d) Impaired Waters List. OWQ is required to actively solicit this information from external organizations for potential use in its 305(b) water quality assessments. Water quality data and information received from external organizations are reviewed for their usability in making assessments. Impairments identified from these assessments are then placed on the 303(d) Impaired Waters List. Therefore, by soliciting data for its CWA Section 305(b) assessments, IDEM meets the requirements outlined in CWA Section 303(d).

Through past solicitations, OWQ determined that some of the water quality data gathered from external organizations for 305(b) and 303(d) processes may also benefit other programs. In 2006, OWQ began development of the external data framework to provide a formalized process for more effective solicitation and efficient review of external data, and facilitation of broader data use by other OWQ programs where possible.

1) The specific requirements for implementation of this part of CWA Section 303(d) are described in CFR 40 Part 130.7-b(5).