Water Policy Program News

Peter Colohan

Colohan Becomes the First Executive Director of the Internet of Water

We are pleased to announce that Peter Colohan will be the first Executive Director to lead the Internet of Water, working to realize the vision of connecting water data for sustainability. Peter comes to us from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where he served as the Director of Service Innovation and Partnership at the Office of Water Prediction.

Moore Foundation Awards Internet of Water $2 Million

Moore Foundation Awards Internet of Water $2 Million

When it comes to water, critical decisions are made every day, regardless of data availability. But what if we could harness more data to make better-informed decisions? The Internet of Water seeks to fundamentally change how we manage water by improving access to more water data for real-time decision-making. The project, undertaken by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, has been awarded $2 million by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

After Florence: Duke Faculty Discuss Relief Planning

Hurricane Florence brought much damage to the North Carolina coast and it’s clear that the work of recovery will take years. The expertise of Duke faculty will contribute to that work. A Duke Today story reports on what Duke faculty had to say about major issues, quoting the Nicholas Institute's Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson who that the state’s dam infrastructure is being “pushed to its limits” by hurricanes such as Florence and 2016’s Matthew. “Climate change matters and it will push the limits of our infrastructure. A warming climate allows more precipitation to be held in the atmosphere, increasing the potential for high intensity precipitation, and appears to create conditions that make ‘stalling’ hurricanes like Florence, and what Texas saw with Harvey, more likely.”

Hurricanes Cause Dam Problems in North Carolina, Duke Researchers Say

In The Chronicle, The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Lauren Patterson and Martin Doyle discuss their research project investigating the target levels and management goals over time of dams and reservoirs. 

Washington Failed Twice to Tax Carbon. Is 2018 Different? ($)

A proposal by Washington state to tax carbon have it join California as the only states with a firm plan to tackle emissions reductions beyond the power sector. But the proposal, Billy Pizer, a faculty fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is a risky move. Spending money on pollution reductions tends to be inefficient when compared with a strong carbon price, which incentivizes consumers and businesses to change behavior. Revenues generated by the fee also tend to increase over time, even as opportunities for pollution reduction become scarcer. The Washington proposal nevertheless has one chief advantage, Pizer tells ClimateWire. It has the potential of passing. "If the money is not being spent effectively, people can change that more easily than getting something on the books," he said, noting that the federal Clean Air Act was amended several times to address loopholes and inefficiencies. "You do whatever you can to get the architecture in place and then amend it later on."

Hurricanes Show the Benefits, Limits of Dams

Over the past week, rivers in North Carolina have broken previous flood records, many of which were set by Hurricane Matthew just two years earlier, write Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson in the Herald Sun. Hurricane Florence dropped 2 to 3 feet of rain, causing major flooding along the Cape Fear, Lumberton, and Neuse rivers. The Cape Fear River alone carried more than 62,000 cubic feet of water per second — enough to overfill an Olympic swimming pool every two seconds — which destroyed property and highlighted the limits of our country’s infrastructure.

Our Nearby Dams Worked After Florence. But Someday They Won’t.

Over the past week, rivers in North Carolina have broken previous flood records, many of which were set by Hurricane Matthew just two years earlier. Hurricane Florence dropped two to three feet of rain, causing major flooding along the Cape Fear, Lumberton, and Neuse rivers—destroying property and highlighting the limits of our country’s infrastructure, write Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson in the News & Observer. 

Changes Are Needed to Fund U.S. Water Infrastructure

Water infrastructure in the western United States was funded in the early and mid-20th Century by federal financing through the Bureau of Reclamation, but such financing has declined in recent decades and there has been increased interest in alternative approaches to infrastructure funding. In Science Magazine, Martin Doyle who directs the Water Policy Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions notes that two of these approaches–public-private partnerships and loan guarantees–are hampered by existing federal budgetary policies, however. "Everyone likes the idea of bringing more private capital to aging infrastructure; but no one is able, or willing, to get into the really weedy details of policy changes necessary to make such investments possible," he said.

Environmentalists Worry that Florence will Leave Behind a Toxic Mess in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence has caused havoc with North Carolina's infrastructure since it began hammering the coastline last week. Hog farms are one of the most problematic environmental challenges after Florence dumped a historic amount of rain on the region, but they’re far from the only one. There are threats from coal ash basins, where the residue from power plants is stored, and toxic sites across the state. And floodwaters can rise high enough to mix with contaminants and then deposit them back into rivers and wetlands that provide drinking water and natural habitats. Martin Doyle, director of the Water Policy Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells The Los Angeles Times that “These are changes that are consistent with what we would see from the effects of climate change. It’s a totally different calculus.”

'Source' Examines America's Rivers, Their Uses and Changes

America’s rivers have had many different uses over the years since colonial days. The Mercury discusses Nicholas Institute Water Policy Program director Martin Doyle’s new book “The Source,” offering that it examines rivers and the reasons for them. 

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