Data and Information

Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin

Accessible, well-maintained databases and information are the foundation on which effective, collaborative, science-based decisions can be made.

  • Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Water Quality and Biological Data Management: ICPRB has assisted the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) since 1994 in assembling and managing monitoring datasets for the partnership. One ICPRB staff is located at the CBP offices in Annapolis, MD and is supported part-time by staff in Rockville, MD.
  • ICPRB’s Data Inventory, Mapping, and Exploration (DIME) [LINK COMING SOON]:Keeping track of the datasets and information used in the diverse ICPRB projects is a challenging but necessary task.
  • Potomac Biological Datasets: Inventorying, digitizing, and combining 20th century biological data collected by multiple agencies and organizations in the Potomac can give us unprecedented historical perspectives. In 1997, ICPRB began exploring the possibility of also merging some of the available non-tidal stream macroinvertebrate data to obtain a basin-wide perspective.

Potomac Biological Datasets

The Potomac River and estuary have a wealth of 20th century monitoring and research studies. A 1991 ICPRB project first inventoried the known biological datasets from the Potomac estuary and then described their general characteristics.

Digitizing Historical Datasets

Datasets were typically stored as paper copies before desktop and laptop computers became common office devices. Digitizing these early datasets is an important step in transitioning from paper to electronic copies of the data. However, efforts to do this are often lower priority and older datasets are at risk of being lost as paper copies fade or are thrown out.

Merging the Data

The Potomac River basin overlaps four states and the District of Columbia, and each has its own biological monitoring programs. Non-government programs also collect biological data. Acquiring and merging these datasets can provide ICPRB a basin-wide perspective. However, the quality and original formats of the acquired datasets vary tremendously and combining datasets can be problematic when they are collected by different monitoring programs with slightly different gear or sampling protocols.

In 1997, ICPRB began exploring the viability of merging disparate macroinvertebrate datasets from non-tidal streams in the basin. This early attempt at merging datasets eventually led to development of the Potomac Basin-wide Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) and the Chessie BIBI index for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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