Water Policy Program News

Researchers Propose an Open ‘Internet of Water’ Tracking Use, Quality and Costs

TechCrunch reports on work by researchers from Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Aspen Institute that looks to develop a shared, open internet of water. With natural disasters like droughts and flooding, and with man-made problems like overcrowded cities and factory runoff, the water system is frequently overtaxed and understudied. Local authorities and utilities produce reams of data on use, but there is little in the way of national databases, let alone standardized, open datasets. “Our water world is data rich, but information poor,” explains Martin Doyle, of Duke’s Nicholas Institute. “If water data were shared openly and then integrated in a common digital platform, there would be game-changing opportunities ranging from private citizens’ ability to gauge the quality of local water to public officials’ ability to warn populations of water-borne public health hazards.”

California Is Using Open Data to Provide Key Health, Water Information

Water boards have improved their use of modern data management to change public habits on critical water issues and are hoping to do more in the future, writes Steven Moore, vice chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in Water Deeply. He references a report by the Aspen Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions noting that much of the United States lacks the data needed to sustainably manage our water supplies and pursue innovative solutions to meet our water challenges. The report, “Internet of Water: Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability,” makes key recommendations for improving the accessibility of water data and engaging the public on issues important to them, like safe drinking water and water availability.

Internet of Water report cover

Internet of Water Could Revolutionize Water Management

The United States is awash in water data—the power of which has yet to be unleashed. To realize the dormant value of the data, say some producers and users, would require making them widely shareable in standardized digital formats, thereby allowing their real-time aggregation for a host of purposes beyond those that spurred their original collection. They believe that opening the data and investing in water data infrastructure would set in motion a wave of innovation, leading to more sustainable management of our water resources.

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Imagine an Internet of Water

The Nicholas Institute's Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson write that we live in a water world that is data rich, but information poor. Public agencies—from the federal government to state to local municipalities—collect tremendous amounts of data, but those data are used for narrow, specific purposes. If those same data were shared openly, Doyle and Patterson say, and then integrated in a common digital platform, there would be game-changing opportunities. 

The Number Of Oil Spills in Texas Dropped 26 Percent in 2016

Texas Monthly reports on a study published in February and led by Lauren Patterson of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, on hydraulic fracturing spill risk in Texas and other states. It indicated that “75 to 94% of spills occurred within the first three years of well life when wells were drilled, completed, and had their largest production volumes.” 

Oil Field Spills Down 17% Last Year ($)

EnergyWire reports that a review of spill records indicates that spills declined about 17 percent during 2016 compared to the previous year. The decrease makes sense to Lauren Patterson, a researcher at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions who authored a study earlier this year on oil and gas spills (Greenwire, Feb. 21). She found that most spills happen in the first three years of a well's life. "If there's fewer new wells, I would expect the number of spills to decrease," Patterson said.

Creating and Internet of Water Database Would Help Manage Water Sustainably

Water is a precious resource, as the five years of extreme drought Californians have just lived through teach us. The lesson learned is how the private and public sector manage water can help take stress off of watersheds. To better manage water, open and shared data is necessary. Aspen Institute, along with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and Redstone Strategy Group, released a report with findings and guidance on how to use water data to improve sustainable use of the resource. 

New Report Calls for 'Internet of Water' to Increase Sustainability

Aspen Institute, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Redstone gathered experts, researchers and stakeholders for talks throughout much of 2016 into 2017 to figure out better water infrastructure and what’s holding back the current system. SmartCities Dive writes that among the actions the report recommends is to articulate a vision of sustainable water resource management, develop tools opening existing, public water data for both producers and users and creating or identifying an organization that can enable a system of data.

In the Past Decade, Fracking Caused Nearly 2 Spills a Day in Just These 4 States

Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and North Dakota saw more than 6,600 spills from fracking wells — or more than one spill for every five wells — from 2005 to 2014, according to a study released Wednesday by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The results suggest that the oil and gas industry needs to have stronger, more consistent reporting requirements for spills, which can include oil, chemical-laden water, and other substances, researchers said. “As this form of energy production increases, state efforts to reduce spill risk could benefit from making data more uniform and accessible to better provide stakeholders with important information on where to target efforts for locating and preventing future spills,” lead author Lauren Patterson told ThinkProgress.

Fracking Fluid is Leaking More Often than We Thought

Hydraulic fractured oil and gas wells spill pretty often, according to a recent study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, led by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. That study, along with a companion paper which appeared in the journal Science of the Total Environment, analyzed spill data and behavior across four states—Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania—with the goal of identifying common causes of spills to help industries improve, reports Popular Science.