Introduction to the CaDC

The California Data Collaborative or “CaDC” is a collaborative project where local cities, water retailers and land planning agencies have come together to build new data infrastructure to ensure California has reliable water today and into the future.  The CaDC is governed by a steering committee composed of full subscribed participating agencies and provides analytical tools and dashboards that are developed using freely available open source tools.

Two months after launching in January 2016, the CaDC was honored by the White House for the founding water managers’ visionary investment in this concept.  This coalition has grown to include world leading academic, tech companies and nongovernmental organizations to increase the value of this investment on behalf of the people of California.

Our goal is to create meaning out of customer data in a way that will inform statewide policy and support water managers in measuring program effectiveness, targeting water efficiency actions and ensuring revenue reliability in times of changing water sales.

How the CaDC operates

The CaDC automates collecting, cleaning, and securely storing actual metered water use from participating agencies that show how much water was used, when it was used, and where the water was applied.

A key benefit of the CaDC is the time, effort, and institutional knowledge of the utility staff that participate in the regular technical working group meetings to develop standardized water data categories and prioritize necessary analytics. 

The project contracts with Team ARGO, a collection of civic computational and statistical talent operating with 501(c)3 status, to build, operate and maintain this new water data infrastructure.  This platform approach creates value through two key paths:

1.     Ongoing analytics -- Up to date water data powers interactive analytics as shown here. The underlying data is not shared though the code powering those tools is made open source where possible on the CaDC Github.

2.     Novel research -- The investment in cleaned data can be leveraged by sharing the data with utility approved academic partners according to the CaDC data sharing protocols included the metadata documentation.

By partnering with researchers, we can enable a marketplace of ideas whereby the world’s best and brightest can help us tackle California’s historic drought.  This data sharing uses global best practices and the California water specific “trust framework” developed by UC Davis.

All analytics and academic insights are developed in accordance with the CaDC guiding principles so this work supports water managers and serves the public good.

The CaDC Guiding Principles

The CaDC has developed in-depth policy principles on water data management to ensure this data creates value and is committed to several foundational principles: 

1.     Goal: The lifecycle of California's water data can and should be integrated into a statewide platform.

2.     Objective: The CaDC provides neutral technical analysis to better inform policy, programmatic and operational decisions. 

3.     Service: This project works to support water managers who opt in with tools and analytics and provide a public service for the people of California.

This approach has important implications for our future as a state.  California faces substantial future water supply uncertainty. Through our service we can help water managers to work smartly and collaboratively to adapt to whatever the future holds.


This granular metered water use data has multiple benefits and has also been used to measure conservation program effectiveness as well support utilities in achieving revenue reliability in times of changing water sales. The CaDC coalition works to realize the integrated vision for the future of water management articulated by the Journal of the American Water Works Association:

“Extreme weather and uncertain future water supplies challenge utilities to do more to integrate resources and adapt to a rapidly changing world. New digital data management and analysis tools allow utilities to better share information as well as regularly model and update future water resource projections of supplies and demand. This iterative approach allows utilities to proactively navigate an uncertain future.”[1]

Furthermore, this publicly owned and operated data infrastructure allows a new integrated approach to natural resource efficiency more broadly. Water, electricity and gas end user consumption data can be securely ingested to power open source analytics and shared with academic researchers to help optimize natural resource efficiency.

How to join the CaDC

Our team would love to have you aboard!  Drop us a line at The CaDC operates through a memorandum of understanding amongst participating agencies and you can see the technical logistics involved in joining in our participation onboarding worksheet here.   

[1] Richard Atwater, Patrick Atwater, Drew Atwater and Jonathan Cruz: “Adaptation, Integration and Connection: How Water Utilities Can Plan for Uncertainty,” Journal of the American Water Works Association June 2015.