Data Infrastructure Investments Could Increase Effectiveness of Reservoir Management
One of the largest repositories of historic reservoir data in the United States is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its districts have been amassing data on hundreds of reservoirs for decades, but, like many other water data gathers in the United States, it cannot always use its own information to support broad-scale decision making. In a new report by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Lauren Patterson and Martin Doyle of the Nicholas Institute and Samantha Kuzma of the World Resources Institute point out that the federalist structure of the Army Corps and other U.S. agencies has often led to wide variation in data management, requiring development of protocols for standardizing and integrating those data. Pointing out that water management transcends political boundaries—requiring data sharing within and between agencies at the scale of watersheds or river basins—they describe the challenges of and opportunities for using the Army Corps’ historic reservoir data to understand how reservoirs are performing as environmental and societal needs change.