Data for Water Decision Making in California


PUBLIC REVIEW: Implementing the Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755)

August 15, 2017

The Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755) presents an opportunity to improve data publication and decision-making in California water management. The open aspect means the provision of access to data using open-source and open-architecture protocols and methods.  Openness is a necessary but insufficient requirement for success, however.  For water data to be useful, it must be developed with decision-makers’ needs paramount as an organizing principle for both content and quality control.  At DWR, we have launched the Open Water Information Architecture (OWIA)  to inform the protocols, cyberinfrastructure, and staff expertise needed to address the mandates of AB 1755 and, more broadly, to provide a sustainable framework for California water resource management.

In partnership with members of the stakeholder community, we have developed an initial, extensible set of use cases to define and articulate stakeholders’ data and information needs in terms that are translatable into development requirements. Use cases describe who needs what data, in what form, to make what decisions.  The construction of use cases engages, as stakeholders, those decision-makers throughout the water resource community who are uniquely positioned to answer these questions.  The translation of use cases into objectives and requirements provides a sound, testable basis for system development.

A key step in implementing data systems is the articulation of the functions needed to meet the stakeholder objectives in engineering terms.  These are called functional requirements.  Functional requirements are design-independent and provide a baseline for controlling cost, schedule, and technical risk for both project managers and developers alike.  

A draft of the functional requirements baseline intended to inform implementation of AB 1755 is now available for comment until September 1, 2017.  It is called the OWIA System Requirements Document (SRD). The SRD provides a sound foundation for an open, sustainable, and community-wide effort, including the public and private sectors,  in both the operational and research domains related to California water resource management.  Additionally, stakeholders who are interested in contributing additional use cases are invited to do so until September 1, 2017.


For questions about the functional requirements document, please contact John Helly ( or Gary Darling (

For matters related to use case development, please contact Alida Cantor ( and Mike Kiparsky (

For more information about the AB 1755 implementation effort, or to subscribe to AB 1755 project announcements, please contact Chris McCready (