National Water Information System
Improving national water policy and transparency through standardised, managed and accessible data.
In 2000, the European Parliament passed the Water Framework Directive which set out a timetable for European countries to improve water quality, manage water through basin plans and involve citizens more closely. To add urgency, Spain suffered its worst drought since 1947 in the years 2004-2005.
The Spanish government realised that nationally comprehensive, reliable and consistent data on water quality and quantity was required. A national Water Information System would allow the implementation of the Directive, ensure the efficient exchange of data across the different levels of government, improve planning and decision making and provide free access to information for public participation.
ADASA won the contract to develop the first national database able to integrate and cross-relate all relevant data on water management in Spain. Technically challenging, information is automatically drawn from many dozens of local authorities and water providers in as many different formats and cadences, processed and stored into a common data model that ensured data consistency and so allowed for aggregation and comparison. The model controlled the state of each data source, its origin and characteristics that would guide its publication. Four portals were also developed to provide different views of the data, from a summary public view, to more expert geo-spatial presentations.
Today, Spain has a standardised, well managed and easily accessible source of national water resources and their quality. Not only does Spain comply with Water Framework Directive, it has been possible to respond to the changing European information requirements in a timely and orderly fashion. The WIS is an indispensable tool that provides a common source of truth for policy development and implementation and the coordination between the different competent bodies responsible for managing water in Spain.
And what is especially satisfying for the Water Directorate, the WIS provides a level of transparency and public accountability that is the hallmark of modern democratic nations.
The Water Directorate of the Ministry of Environment is the department of the Spanish responsible for resource planning, policy and regulation for water, energy and the environment. With a Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers and a history of droughts, Spain is the most arid country in Europe. With 1230 large dams, it has been said to have more per head of population than any country in the world.