formats In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 412
May 15, 2006

Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2006.04

Subject: Data Bases--Electronic Transmission of Analytical Laboratory Data for Entry into QWDATA Release 4.6

The Water Resources Discipline (WRD) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects a vast array of samples from numerous media (water, sediment, biological tissue, etc.), which are analyzed at various laboratories. The Water-Quality System (QWDATA) of the National Water Information System (NWIS) is the primary, official repository of all discrete sample data collected by WRD. The National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) allows for electronic transmission and loading of analytical data into QWDATA. Data transmissions for numerous other laboratories, including both internal USGS labs (Geologic Discipline, Biological Discipline, WRD research labs, Water Science Center labs) and external (university, other government agency, and commercial) labs are in a variety of paper and electronic formats, and some of these laboratories have begun to provide data on formats compatible with QWDATA. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance for the electronic transmission of analytical data into QWDATA for these other laboratories.

Prior to the QWDATA 4_1 Release, the batch format (1- and *-cards) for QWDATA was difficult for laboratories to produce. This has had several undesirable consequences. These include: (1) data not being entered into QWDATA; (2) data being incompletely or incorrectly entered into QWDATA (desired fields are not populated; transcription errors, etc.); (3) Water Science Center (WSC) users and database administrators independently inventing methods to manage data; and (4) WSC users and database administrators spending an inordinate amount of time entering data into QWDATA by hand. The QWDATA 4_1 Release provided a new tab-delimited batch format for electronic transmission of data.

The NWQL and selected USGS WRD laboratories now provide data to QWDATA using the tab-delimited format. Continued incremental improvements to QWDATA have resulted in new sample- and result-level fields that have been added to this batch file format. This memo documents the current (2006) batch file format and provides reference documents that will assist laboratories that produce batch file format data for entry into QWDATA. The “1- and-* card” format is not addressed in this memo because its use is being phased out because this format cannot be used to enter data for all sample- and result-level fields. For additional information, users can reference the QWDATA User’s Manual available on-line at:

Attachments to this memo provide information on the QWDATA 4_6 Release batch format. Attachment 1 is designed to be an independent document that can be provided directly to laboratories that will be producing the batch files. References to internal documents are not included in this attachment. Attachment 2 is for internal WRD users and provides more detail on the batch processing. It includes references to internal documents and QWDATA software operations. Users will need to provide information for selected attributes to laboratories because all documentation on QWDATA processing is not available to the public. This memo and attachments are available on-line (internal USGS only) at: Attachments 1 and 2 will be updated in the future as needed to reflect future batch file format changes.

Questions can be emailed to

Timothy L. Miller /s/
Chief, Office of Water Quality

This memorandum supersedes Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2002.06.

Distribution: All WRD Employees