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CalSWIM facilitates open, coordinated, informed decision-making for those interested in water resources. With initial focus on California, CalSWIM provides a framework for engaging water management professionals, scientists, and the general public in the process of sharing information about water resources. The approach benefits from critical open supervision of the content, and from valuable volunteer contributions that cannot occur in a closed infrastructure. The project aims to creat a public and easily updatable information infrastructure of "all things watershed" that includes all watersheds in California.

CalSWIM started in 2004 under the supervision of UCI professors Crista Lopes and Stanley Grant,  from a contract with the Orange County Stormwater Program. Like so many other scientific cyberinfrastructures, it started as a closed infrastructure, i.e. its update has been controlled by a small number of individuals, and any changes to it required the intervention of Web-knowledgeable professionals. In order to make this cyberinfrastructure sustainable, expandable, outreaching, and continually up-to-date, it was transformed in 2007 into an Open Collaborative Information Repository in the form of a wiki with advanced content management features, including databases, maps, and other forms of digital data.

The chaotic nature of Wikipedia (one the most visible collaborative information repositories) is not appropriate for open cyberinfrastructures supporting collaboration over scientific and regulatory information. The CalSWIM wiki takes issues of trust and credibility into consideration in its design. Trust is a complex concept based on personal and social factors, that includes assurances about data security, knowledge about data provenance, knowledge about authors' reputations, and assurances about author attribution (citations and quotations) in uncontrolled contexts.