This paper examines sources of supporting information for data that is collected in a monitoring program were samples are collected repetitively to detect change in some parameter over time. The development of a monitoring program goes through several steps, including site characterization, site selection, sampling, and analysis. This process involves the evaluation and development of a large amount of information, which generally has not accompanied the reported tabular data. The lack of this information has often limited the application and use of the tabular data.
GIS is a valuable tool for analyzing data collected in monitoring programs with other spatial themes. To support the transfer and use of spatial data, the Federal government has adopted content standards for digital geospatial metadata. The intent of these standards is to provide sufficient information for the application and use of a spatial data set.
We have developed large sets of that have been underused frequently because the information about this data was either not available or too insufficient to make a decision on the usefulness of the data. In part, this is because of the design of the data systems used to store the reported data values. Additional notes, site descriptions, and comments on a particular parameter were often abbreviated for storage with the tabular data. Retrievals of the data have not identified the associated quality control/ quality assurance documents. Additional information describing the sampling site and sampling procedure were not associated with the sampling data.
With the systems and software tools that are currently available, all appropriate information about a sampling program can be available to the user. This information can be associated with the data regardless of the data format. This paper examines the content of information that should be available to document a long-term monitoring program addressing agricultural drainage issues in the San Joaquin Valley of California. This monitoring program is attempting to identify changes in the concentration of selected constituents in drainage water, surface streams, and wildlife on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley.