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Before you start

Understand how and what hydrometric data SEPA collects, what they mean, and how they are made available

As part of the Scottish Government Open Data Strategy, SEPA makes data from its hydrometric network available via an API

Scottish Government, SEPA, and data access

The Scottish Government promotes open access to public data, via its Open data strategy

As a science-driven environmental regulator, SEPA holds many datasets that characterise Scotland's environment, several of which are already publicly accessible: refer to the Data publication catalogue and the Linked Data Resources beta.

Find other Scottish Government open data:

Hydrometric network

SEPA maintains a strategic network of continuous monitoring stations across Scotland. These stations return data that inform water resource management, flood management, and flood prevention. Each station typically hosts a number of environmental sensors, to enable automated measurement of rainfall, and of water level - as groundwater, river level, and tidal level - amongst others. The observed data are transmitted automatically, via telephone and Internet connections, to a central archive.

Scotland's hydrometric network has been in existence for more than a century and, as can be imagined, methods of observation and of recording those observations have changed significantly over the intervening period. Nevertheless, many historical data have been digitised and are included in the current electronic archive.


Continuous monitoring data are archived in a Hydrological Information Management System (HIMS), which is a database combined with a number of helper services to manage high-volume data import and export, and a client user-interface that supports system configuration and management, data evaluation, quality control, editing, and reporting. The system also stores station, network, and catchment metadata, and includes facilities for capturing calibration data (gaugings) and maintaining calibration profiles (ratings).


This is information that describes the data sources and, specifically, is associated with the stations at which observations are made. It therefore includes information such as location, elevation, measurement datums, and catchment areas. As such, metadata tends to change rarely throughout the duration of the associated continuous data records. For more detail see What data are available.

Time series data

Time series data are continuous records of observed instantaneous parameter values, and any derived continuous data series. These are typically recorded at 15-minute intervals across SEPA's hydrometric network. The derived data are generally aggregated into longer time intervals, such as daily, monthly, or annual totals or mean values. Again, for more detail see What data are available and also How the data are structured.


A subset of the data in the primary HIMS are copied to a duplicate system which is publicly accessible via an Application Programming Interface (API). The API provides a mechanism to pose structured data queries in order to return both metadata and time series data. These queries can be constructed manually, making use of in-built filters, to return individual datasets, or programmatically, to create dynamic data requests that support external applications, such as visualisation, analysis, or modelling tools.

Whilst access to the data is free, to reduce contention on the system there are certain restrictions on the quantities of data that may be retrieved on any single day. For more detail see What controls are there on data access