The State of California and the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Water Data Challenge

October 27 – December 5, 2016

In partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the State of California (acting through the State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Water Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Government Operations Agency and the California Department of Technology) is planning a Water Data Challenge to leverage information technology and available water information to support decisions around California water reliability and sustainability of resources. The challenge envisions entries to be in the form of apps, visualizations, and other tools that can help better harness data that is currently available to address issues related to California’s on-going drought. One of the aims of this event is to create products that demonstrate the use of data beyond what is currently being done.

The challenge is built on a framework for addressing our nation's water issues a framework made up of the White House's goals for drought, described in detail in the White House's March 2016 Federal Action Plan of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, and the Governor’s California Water Action Plan. The challenges identified in the California Water Action Plan are:

  • Uncertain water supplies
  • Water scarcity/drought
  • Declining groundwater supplies
  • Poor water quality
  • Declining native fish species and loss of wildlife habitat
  • Floods
  • Supply disruptions
  • Population growth and climate change further increase the severity of these risks

The California Water Data Challenge’s Charge Questions are built directly on these objectives from the Action Plan.

We will hold a virtual check-in meeting on November 10 for participants to ask questions and share initial concepts (with an in-person meeting site also available for participants in the Sacramento region). Final entries must be submitted by 5:00 pm Pacific Time on December 5, 2016, and a closing event will be held on December 9, 2016 where participants will present their entries and a panel of judges will select the Challenge winners. More details about these events (including time, location, and registration requirements) will be posted in the Important Dates tab in the coming days, so please check this site over the course of the Challenge for the latest information.

Eventbrite - White House and California Governor's Office Water Data Challenge

A Data Innovation Challenge (also known as an apps challenge or codefest) is a competition of brainstorming and computer programming that draws together the talent and creativity of software developers and designers.

To participate in this Data Challenge, comply with the Submission Requirements and follow the Submission Instructions described below.

Submission Requirements

The Contest will accept any type of solution, including apps, websites, data visualizations or visualization tools, analyses contained in standalone documents, etc.

  • Submissions can be rough—anything from wireframes to functioning websites/apps work
  • Entrants must submit a brief (1 or 2 paragraph) description of their entry, as well as a PowerPoint of no more than five slides in PDF or PPTX format that describes their entry. Entrants are also required to make a brief (5 minutes or less) presentation at the judging event on December 9 (either in-person or remotely), and may present any material of their choosing in this presentation (PowerPoint slides, videos, demos, etc.).
  • Submissions will be accepted from teams or individuals.
  • Submissions can make use of any publicly available data sources. Submissions should not include any data that is not available to the general public.


Please visit the event's registration page to sign up.

Submission Instructions

Participants can submit their products using whatever option from the list below is most convenient and appropriate to their product type, but all entries should be accompanied by an email as described below. Entries must be received by 5:00 pm PST on December 5, 2016. Options for submitting entry products include:

  • Email for submission of small standalone files or links to websites / apps / etc.
  • A file sharing service (FTP site) for uploading larger files
  • GitHub for submitting open-source code and other file types
  • Submissions will be accepted from teams or individuals.

To submit your entry, send an email to with the following information:

  1. Your Name
  2. The name and email address of any team members (if applicable)
  3. Project Title
  4. A brief (1 or 2 paragraph) description of your entry
  5. A list of the datasets you used (or would plan to use if your entry is a proof-of-concept entry). For example, the name of any datasets on the open data portal you used, the name of any other Water Board datasets you used, and/or the name and URL of any other publicly available dataset(s) you used.
  6. An attached PowerPoint file of no more than 5 slides that describes your entry
  7. Depending on your submission type, either:
    1. A link to your website / app / etc.
    2. An attached standalone document
    3. The name of any file(s) uploaded to the FTP site. The FTP site is at: (Username: OIMA_upload / Password: AqcmBp)
    4. A link to your GitHub repository

If you have any questions about how to submit your entry, please email

A panel of judges will evaluate the entries based on the following criteria:

  • Technical competence and capabilities (50%)

    The solution addresses the primary goals of the Data Challenge. It is a product that addresses the California drought. Additionally, the solution is easy to navigate and intuitive, and is inclusive of a range of audiences.

  • Use of data to provide effective outcomes (20%)

    The solution makes use of multiple publically available datasets, and displays that data in a way that is easy to understand, visually appealing, and will help drive understanding of current trends as well as development of recommendations. User-friendliness, usability, and accessibility of the solution will also be considered.

  • Creativity/Innovation (20%)

    The solution makes an impact and exceeds any existing internal capability that the California State Water Resources Control Boards have for analysis of data through its incorporation of creative design elements and innovative capabilities. The goal is clearly stated and unique, and there is a real-world potential to produce a breakthrough or a major change that would improve water management or lead to new insights. Sustainability of implementing the product may also be considered.

  • Valuable information and insights regarding data (10%)

    The Entrant provides recommendations for additional data elements to be collected by the Water Boards and/or identifies gaps in the data and utilizes multiple data sources and research to aid the in setting future data collection policies.

Contest Guidlines

Each Entrant agrees to be legally bound by these rules and by the interpretation of these rules by the Sponsor, and further warrants and represents that their Submission:

  • is their own work and not copied. If we have reason to believe that a Submission is not the Entrant’s own work then we may not consider it;
  • does not contain any third party intellectual property rights and/or content that the Entrant does not have permission to use;
  • does not contain any advertisement or solicitation;
  • is not obscene, defamatory, threatening, in breach of any applicable legislation or regulations, or protected by copyright, trademark or other proprietary right without the express prior consent of the owner of such right;
  • does not contain any material that would give rise to criminal or civil liability or that encourages conduct that constitutes a criminal offense; and
  • otherwise complies in all respects with the Terms and Conditions.

Code of Conduct

  • Be Respectfful
  • Be Thoughtful
  • Be Open
  • Be Awesome & Have Fun!