Water Policy Program News

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. 

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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.” 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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States' Data on Fracking Well Spills Inadequate for Comprehensive Study, Researchers Say

The nation's regulation of oil and gas development is a mish-mash of disjointed state oversight that makes it difficult to quantify the environmental impacts of drilling, reports Inside Climate News. A new study highlights just how inconsistent spill reporting is, showing that the range in requirements makes it impossible to compare states or come up with a comprehensive national picture. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, pulled together some of the disparate data and found there have been about 5 spills each year for every 100 wells that have been hydraulically fractured. Of the states examined, North Dakota had the highest rate of spills while Colorado companies reported just 11 spills per 1,000 wells annually.

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Fracking Studies Reveal Need for Standard Reporting Requirements on Spills

Two papers on unconventional oil and gas development highlight the need for states to develop standardized data collection and reporting requirements for spills to better identify and manage risks for nature and people, reports the Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog. “State spill data holds great promise for risk identification and mitigation. However, reporting requirements differ across states, requiring considerable effort to make the data usable for analysis,” said Lauren Patterson, policy associate at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the study’s lead author. “Given the rapid recent development of unconventional oil and gas development, data are scarce on both how often spills happen, what causes them, what materials are spilled, and what the long-term environmental effects are. There is a need to better quantify risk to people and nature.”

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Study Identifies Spill Risk of Hydraulically Fractured Wells

New analysis in the journal Environmental Science & Technology finds that 2 to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania spill hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids and other substances each year. It examines state-level spill data to characterize spills associated with unconventional oil and gas development at 31,481 wells hydraulically fractured or "fracked" in the four states between 2005 and 2014, identifying 6,648 spills in the 10-year period. Authors conclude that making state spill data more uniform and accessible could provide stakeholders with important information on where to target efforts for locating and preventing future spills. However, reporting requirements differ across states, requiring considerable effort to make the data usable for analysis.

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