Good practices document published on sharing groundwater geospatial data


Commissioned by SADC-GMI and in cooperation with IHE Delft, IGRAC developed a report on ‘Good practices for sharing groundwater geospatial data’ within the framework of the project ‘Expansion of the SADC Groundwater Information Portal (SADC-GIP)’. This document addresses the sharing of geospatial data between organisations and individuals engaged in groundwater management and it provides a set of good practices to both data providers and data users to ensure that data are shared properly.

The need for this document 

Groundwater is a vital resource for the SADC region. According to groundwater governance principles, it is important that all stakeholders receive appropriate information and access to groundwater data in order to participate in the sustainable management, development and protection of this resource. However, regional capacity assessments carried out between 2017 and 2020 have highlighted that the sharing of groundwater data and information is often not effective.

Ranging from borehole data, monitoring data and geophysical data to precipitation data, land use, and groundwater modelling data, groundwater data are for a very large part geographic data. It means that they have geographic coordinates (longitude, latitude and sometimes elevation) by which they can be referenced in a map. Also called geospatial data, georeferenced data or simply geodata, geographic data can be visualised, processed and analysed in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).For this reason, it is important that groundwater professionals are properly trained and capacitated in using GIS. 

Good practices

The document is structured in three sections. The first section covers interoperability issues between GIS programs and formats. The second section addresses the use of metadata, which are necessary for data users to know what data they are dealing with and how they can use it adequately. The third and last section presents how Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) can be implemented to facilitate the sharing of data within or among organisations.

Getting good practices into application would prevent common issues faced by groundwater specialists, such as: “I can’t open this datafile in my GIS software”, “These borehole data are not located at the right place in my map”, “Is this groundwater level expressed in depth below the surface or in elevation above the sea level?”