Increasing stress on global groundwater resources is leading to new approaches to the management and delivery of groundwater data. These approaches include the deployment of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to enable online data interoperability amongst numerous and heterogeneous data sources. Often an important component of an SDI is a global domain schema, which serves as a central structure for the query and transport of data, but at present there does not exist a schema for groundwater data that is strongly compliant with SDI concepts, standards, and technologies. In this paper we present GroundWater Markup Language (GWML), a groundwater application of the Geography Markup Language (GML). GWML can be used in conjunction with a variety of web services to facilitate data interoperability in a SDI. We describe three common usage scenarios that motivate the design of GWML and a three-stage design methodology involving conceptual, logical and physical schemas. The resultant GWML has broad scope as demonstrated by its implementation in the Canadian Groundwater Information Network. Example uses include decision support in resource management, a scientific application for aquifer mapping, and a commercial application for drill site selection. These demonstrated uses suggest GWML can play a key role in emerging groundwater SDI.

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