Oroville Dam and Lake Oroville reservoir from the air, within the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, northern California. Photo: Department of Water Resources

The California Water Data Challenge, announced on Friday, invites interested individuals and teams to develop apps, websites, data visualizations or other tools “that leverage publicly available data sets in novel ways to support creative solutions to California’s water challenges, as outlined in the Brown administration’s California Water Action Plan,” according to a joint release by several state agencies supporting the competition.

Sponsors of the challenge include the State Water Board, the California Department of Water Resources, California Fish and Wildlife, California Government Operations Agency, and the California Department of Technology. The state agencies have joined the White House Council on Environmental Quality to launch the competition, to encourage the development of “innovative, data-based tools that help California address its ongoing drought and assure a reliable, sustainable water system for the future.”

“This challenge allows us to take the data we have today and actually use it to far greater effect — to benefit water quality, ecosystem management or any aspect of managing water resources,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in the press release. “We have learned that the creative energy this type of event generates in a short period of time yields phenomenal benefits, so we are grateful to the Council on Environmental Quality for partnering with us on this project.”

The challenge announcement follows legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in late September of this year, which directed the California Department of Water Resources and partnering state agencies to create a statewide water data platform. The bill, called the Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755) from Assemblymember Bill Dodd, is intended to improve access to water transfer information and other water and ecological data as California continues to deal with the drought.

Individual participants or teams in the water data competition are invited to use publicly available data to create tools that focus on specific challenges outlined in the Water Action Plan, including: uncertain water supplies; water scarcity/drought; declining groundwater supplies; poor water quality; declining native fish species and loss of wildlife habitat; floods; supply disruptions; and population growth and climate change. Participants will have access to water-related data sets through the state of California’s open data portal and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council.

Entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5. Judging and announcement of the awards is on Dec. 9. For more information, visit the California Water Data Challenge website at waterchallenge.data.ca.gov/.