On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a first Category 4 storm.  With sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and three times the rainfall of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, putting 3.1 million people without power or access to clean water.  Researchers now seek to develop and advance open-source software infrastructure to support scientific investigation and data-driven decision-making following natural disasters like Hurricane Maria, with a pilot project focused on drinking water.

This project was initiated with the support of the National Science Foundation Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) program with a Rapid Response Research grant (RAPID; 1810647). Related funding is acknowledged on the Github HydroShare Puerto Rico Water Studies Repository Wiki

Project Details: 


Widespread disruption of drinking water distribution systems in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria poses a significant risk to human health.  Thus, it is necessary to strategically archive and disseminate water resources data relevant to public health and environmental concerns. This project seeks to design and test a prototype scientific cyberinfrastructure that integrates existing hardware and software platforms for the storage and curation of water resources data and analytical tools following natural disasters that cause loss of public utilities. 

Project management details can be found on the Github HydroShare Puerto Rico Water Studies Repository Wiki

Intellectual Merit

The proposed cyberinfrastructure will integrate heterogeneous datasets (e.g., water quality, geospatial surveys, human health information) and provide a unique resource for interdisciplinary researchers to examine how natural-human coupled systems respond to extreme events.   

Broader Impacts

This research deepens our understanding of the impact of high-profile extreme events, which will inform recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and strengthen emergency preparedness protocols and self-resiliency in other communities subject to hurricane flooding.  In partnership with CUAHSI, data collected in this project will be reported in a consistent, documented format and broadly accessible to the research community.

  • Project Objectives

    1. Field Collection of Spatially- and Temporally-Resolved Water Quality and Public Health Data.  We will execute a drinking water sampling campaign to quantify microbial and inorganic contaminants in various water distribution system networks across Puerto Rico and develop educational materials for the interpretation of this data.

    2. Demonstrate the usability of HydroShare as a centralized cyberinfrastructure to house selected datasets related to disaster response.  We will assemble baseline and hurricane recovery datasets in HydroShare, an online, collaborative hydrologic information system.  

    3. Use the prototype cyberinfrastructure of develop testable hypotheses about earth system processes and population health trends.  Integrated data may be used to drive analytical tools like the Observation Data Model (ODM2) and Landlab.  Research products based on our cyberinfrastructure will foster streamlined disaster preparedness, recovery efforts, and population health research.

  • Data

    This project aims to promote open and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) data principles, following Stall et al., 2017.  Especially in Earth and space sciences, data curation and documentation practices are uneven and inconsistent. We will strive to provide clean, curated data with adequate documentation and easy discoverability.

    HydroShare will serve as the archival system for project data, which will promote the sharing and reuse of project data.  All data will be publicly and freely available using a Creative Commons License, where applicable. All resources will be described with metadata that conform to the Dublin Core metadata standard (DCMI 2012) and the Open Archives Initiatives’ Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) standard (Lagoze et al., 2008).  Curated research products (e.g., datasets, models, etc.) will be citable using a digital object identifier (DOI). All source code developed in this project will be openly shared in GitHub repositories associated with HydroShare.

  • Story Map
  • Contact / Get Involved

    To share and find data:
    To find data about these hurricanes, search HydroShare using the keyword "Maria2017," or request to join the Puerto Rico Water Studies Group

    To share data you have for any of these hurricanes, add it to HydroShare, and use the keyword “Maria2017” to associate it with this project.

    To publish data:

    You may formally publish your data in HydroShare which assigns it a citable digital object identifier. It will be reviewed for completeness by CUAHSI. Join the CUAHSI 2017 Hurricane Data Community group or the Puerto Rico Water Studies Group in Hydroshare and share your data with these groups to make it visible to group members.  If you would like your data to be added to one of the curated collections above, contact help@cuahsi.org.  CUAHSI will then forward the request to the collection curators.


    Contact help@cuahsi.org with questions. 

    CUAHSI works with university researchers and stakeholders to support and expand community projects. This project is led by the contributors listed below.

  • Collaborators


    Christina Bandaragoda1, Jimmy Phuong2, Sean Mooney1, Kari Stephens1, Erkan Istanbulluoglu3, Julia Hart3, Kelsey Pieper4, William Rhoads4, Marc Edwards4, Amy Pruden5, Virginia Riquelme5, Ishi Keenum5, Ben Davis5, Matthew Blair5, Greg House5, Jerad Bales6, Emily Clark7, Liza Brazil8, Miguel Leon9, William G McDowell10, Jeffery S Horsburgh11, David G Tarboton11, Amber Spackman Jones11, Eric Hutton12, Gregory E Tucker13, Lynn McCready14, Scott Dale Peckham14, W. Christopher Lenhardt15, Ray Idaszak15, Graciela Ramirez-Toro16, Melitza Crespo Medina16, Tim Ferguson-Sauder17.


    (1)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Biomedical and Health Informatics, Seattle, WA, United States, (3)Univ of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (4)Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States, (5)Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, United States, (6)CUAHSI, Cambridge, MA, United States, (7)CUAHSI, Cambridge, MA, United States, (8)CUAHSI, Cambridge, MA United States, (9)University of Pennsylvania, Earth & Environmental Science, Philadelphia, PA, United States, (10)Edmonton, AB, Canada, (11)Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States, (12)Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, Boulder, CO, United States, (13)Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, CO, United States, (14)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (15) Renaissance Computing Institute, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (16) Center for Environmental Education Conservation and Research of Inter American University of Puerto Rico, (17) Olin College.

Photo Credits: Photo Courtesy of Mandalit Del Barco/NPR. Richard Colón, better known by his stage name Crazy Legs, at his home in Isabela, Puerto Rico, shows the before-and-after of the water filtration system he’s helping deliver to people in remote areas. This photo originally appeared in NPR