Thirsty California May Be Wary of Blockchain Water Rights

Last week, Colorado lawmakers filed a bill exploring how blockchain technology could be applied to water rights management. Now, California is also …

Last week, Colorado lawmakers filed a bill exploring how blockchain technology could be applied to water rights management.

Now, California is also studying blockchain for use in water rights management, as reported by Cointelegraph. But coming off a severe drought, which saw water restrictions throughout the state, they are facing a far different set of circumstances than Colorado, as water rights in California have always been a highly political issue.

The film “Water & Power: A California Heist” examined how a handful of corporate landowners took advantage of a state-engineered system and gained control of its water, leaving local homeowners with dry wells. Hollywood also has examined the issue with a bit more drama in “Chinatown,” where the California’s water wars and dirty dealing was dealt with by Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

In a state where agricultural and corporate interests consume much of the available water while restaurants won’t serve a glass for free and residents’ lawns turn brown, blockchain adoption may be looked at warily by special interests and government, all with a vested interest in maintaining a veil over water usage while blaming the little guys for waste.

Here’s a closer look at how the blockchain might be implemented in California to manage water.

IBM, The Freshwater Trust and SweetSense

In California, researcher the Pacific Institute has a nonprofit called The Freshwater Trust. It has already spearheaded a collaboration on water management with IBM and SweetSense. The project amounts to a blockchain-based system that implements Internet of Things (IoT) sensors across water pumps in a major river.

The state has been plagued by severe water shortages since 2006, and suffered drought in nine of these past thirteen years. That’s actually keeping within historical norms, as in the 20th century, the state had five periods of drought, with one lasting nine years and another eight years.

California receives most of its water from systems called atmospheric rivers. These storms drop most of the water the region receives on a yearly basis. On average, between 30 and 50 percent of annual precipitation in West Coast states happens in about three atmospheric rivers.

When too few happen, California is in a drought.

Scientists and engineers will use blockchain and IoT sensors to track groundwater usage in real-time across the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Their aim is to manage the water supply and ease pressures on the water table.

Covering 1,100 square miles, the northern California delta is one of the largest aquifers considered by many to be at a high risk for ecological destruction. It sources water for the southern and coastal areas of the state and supports dozens of endangered species, including around 75 percent of all salmon found in California. Three quarters of the delta is further used for agriculture, and this is responsible for much of the high water demand.

“California is huge for American agriculture, but it’s heavily groundwater dependent,” said Alex Johnson, fund director for The Freshwater Trust, while speaking to Digital Trends. “There are some basins in the central valley that have been so depleted over the last couple decades that they are 20 feet lower in elevation.”

Aquifers in California have suffered from intensive farming and business use. The water table is not just being lowered, making water more scarce, but rain has not replenished the aquifers fast enough. One, or even two, rainy years are not enough; the ground is already sinking in a phenomenon called subsidence, the sudden sinking or gradual downward settling of the ground’s surface with little or no horizontal motion.

A market for water

IoT sensors track levels of groundwater pulled up from individual pumps before uploading data via satellite to IBM’s blockchain — with no need for internet connectivity — and then water credits can be granted according to usage. A credit grants its owner the right to extract a set amount of groundwater, but if their need is less, they can sell it as a digital asset.

Conversely, those in need of additional water credits are able to buy from others. This is great if, for example, a farmer chooses to rest their land for a season at the same time a winery realizes it needs extra groundwater during a particularly dry spell. A blockchain system coupled with AI could theoretically recognize opportunities for businesses to trade credits for water and notify administrators and businesses. There is no direct negative effect on the aquifer, if the additional water shares can be bought from the farmer.

Such an open market gives an incentive for businesses and farmers to manage their water use due to the fact that using less means they can sell their credits for a profit. Managing the water supply in this way could prove efficient in a region where already too much groundwater has been drawn.

Using blockchain brings transparency to the system because all records and subsequent amendments can be seen by anyone. Being able to observe the amount of groundwater used by various entities is vital: There is no incentive for an individual to regulate water usage if competitors pay no heed to regulations. If the pilot project is successful, blockchain will be set to play an instrumental role in helping prevent a state-wide ecological disaster looming large for California.

So, how can blockchain help more efficiently manage these artificial rivers and the water they bring?

Beyond water rights database management, water markets and general administration, a blockchain system could make the management of water more efficient while interfacing with automation and AI. For instance, after numerous recent artificial rivers, less than 1 percent of the state is still considered in drought (one year ago, the United States Drought Monitor classified 48 percent of California as being in a drought). Surprisingly, this region is on the Oregon border.

Using trustworthy oracles, an AI-blockchain could theoretically identify changes in conditions ahead of time, suggest contingency plans, and find buyers (in the drought-stricken region) and sellers (in the regions with ample rainfall) for water before the atmospheric storms even arrive. A blockchain logistics system could be implemented as part of a blockchain-based water management system.

The Hyperledger blockchain

IBM, SweetSense and The Freshwater Trust will likely use the Hyperledger blockchain — which is hosted by the Linux Foundation, Ripple, Stellar and Ethereum — for any experiments pertaining to water management. Local and city governments could also partner with R3 on such a critical part of the infrastructure.

There are several reasons why state officials prefer to partner with a blockchain organization focused on enterprise. For instance, Hyperledger, R3 and Ripple have received money from investors and clients, and can afford research and discovery.

Blockchain water banks

Colorado’s Bill 184 says the Pacific Institute should look into water rights database management, the establishment of water “banks” or markets, and general administration with blockchain once it acquires funds.

The experiment is underway in California. And there, the improved management of approximately three to four atmospheric rivers per year is critical — from collection all the way to allocation.

“We will never capture it all, but we need to do a better job of capturing what we can,” Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute told Fox News.

“The challenge is: How do we capture more of that water to use it so we can use it during dry parts of the year? And cities in California have not historically done a good job of capturing what we call stormwater,” Mr Gleick added.

The article was written by Justin O’Connell.

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IBM Brings Blockchain To Australia, Pilots Water Conservation Project

The programmes are two facets in the burgeoning use of distributed ledger systems, best known as the basis for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, …

IBM has launched its blockchain offering in an Australian data centre and has launched a pilot programme demonstrating the use of blockchain technology in tracking sustainable groundwater usage.

The programmes are two facets in the burgeoning use of distributed ledger systems, best known as the basis for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, but increasingly popular in areas from financial services to supply chain management.

IBM said its blockchain offering is now available via its Melbourne data centre and would launch in a Sydney centre by the end of March for availability and redundancy purposes.

The Australian offering follows others in London, Frankfurt, Toronto, Dallas, Tokyo and Sao Paolo, and allows Australian organisations to use the tech without their data ever crossing national boundaries.

TFT freshwater fund director Alex Johnson. Image credit: IBM

Regulated industries

IBM said that could be particuarly attractive for heavily regulated industries such as financial services and government.

The IBM Blockchain Platform is built on the open source Hyperledger Fabric from the Linux Foundation.

IBM said the fact that it was bringing the blockchain to more geographic areas showed the maturity of projects using the technology.

It cited the use of blockchain in tracking food from farms through to retailers as an active use case in Australia, with others including smart contracts and financial services such as assuring digital identity or tracking financial trade.

Groundwater monitoring

IBM Research said it is working with nonprofit The Freshwater Trust (TFT) and SweetSense, which provides low-cost satellite-connected sensors, to track sustainable groundwater usage in California using blockchain and Internet of Things technologies.

The project focuses on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aquifer in Northern California, a 1,110 square-mile aquifer that provides water to the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

SweetSense’s IoT sensors are to send water extraction data to satellites and then to the IBM blockchain hosted in IBM’s cloud.

The blockchain platform is to record all data exchanges and transactions in an append-only ledger that can’t be altered.

Water consumers including farmers, financiers and regulators are to gain access to groundwater-use share trading via a web-based dashboard.

Users can sell or trade a water credit if it is not needed, while others could purchase additional water shares without a negative effect upon the aquifer.

Pilot project

TFT freshwater fund director Alex Johnson said such sustainability plans depend upon the ability of technology to track and report groundwater use, as well as a way to trade groundwater shares.

“Our strategic intent is to harness new technologies to develop a system that makes getting groundwater more sustainable, collaborative, accurate and transparent process, which is why we are using the blockchain,” Johnson said.

IBM said such meausures could be put into place elsewhere.

“With the addition of the blockchain we can bridge critical trust and transparency gaps making it possible to build a robust, scalable and cost-efficient platform for managing precious groundwater supplies anywhere in the world,” said Dr Solomon Assefa, director of IBM Research Africa.

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IBM Using Blockchain and IoT To Fight Against Drought In California

… rainfall and weather correlations, This data shall then be recorded into the could-hosted and smart contract-compatible IBM Blockchain Platform.

IBM Research and sensor tech provider SweetSense have recently announced a partnership in order to collaborate on a project using blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) to deal with the ongoing drought currently affecting California.

Both IBM Research and SweetSense have also partnered with a non-profit organization by the name of The Freshwater Trust (TFT) and the University of Colorado Boulder to utilize blockchain and IoT technology to sustainably manage groundwater in whats being known as one of the largest and most at risk aquifers in North America, which is located in the northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

For those not in the know, an aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rocks, from which groundwater can be extracted and distributed throughout the region’s ecosystem. Stretching over 1,100 square miles, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been said to be the nexus of California’s statewide water system and will become the testing ground for this new sustainability project.

Tracking

According to information provided by the press release, the project shall involve the use of IoT sensors that shall transmit water extraction data to orbiting satellites, which are simultaneously used to detect rainfall and weather correlations, This data shall then be recorded into the could-hosted and smart contract-compatible IBM Blockchain Platform.

Farmers, Financiers, and Regulators will be capable of using the web-based dashboard to interface with the blockchain and monitor the groundwater all in real time.

With precise tracking set into place, the system will then be capable of issuing a so-called “groundwater shares” that will then be purchased and traded by players in the region, so that those who are not in need of all their assigned water supply can then exchange it as credits for those who are in need of it.

The press release points out that TFT was the one to help them establish the Northern Delta Groundwater Sustainability agency, which integrates multiple smaller agencies under a single unit to work together on sustainable groundwater usage. The agency is one of a series of such entities statewide, which were mandated to handle the environmental issues after California signed its Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGM) into law during 2014.

In addition to the US, SweetSense has also implemented their sensor technology to monitor groundwater supplies for over a million people in Kenya and Ethiopia, with plans to further expand their number to 5 million nearing the end of 2019.

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IBM in Three-Way Blockchain Partnership for Sustainable Groundwater Project

IBM in Three-Way Blockchain Partnership for Sustainable Groundwater … IBM Research and SweetSense have allied to launch a distributed ledger …
Reading Time: 2minutesbyonFebruary 11, 2019&nbspBlockchain, News, Tech

The Freshwater Trust (TFT) a conservation non-profit focused on preserving and restoring freshwater ecosystems, IBM Research and SweetSense have allied to launch a distributed ledger technology (DLT) pilot that would accurately and transparently measure groundwater usage in real-time in the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta in California, reportedenterprise times on February 11, 2019.

Blockchain Technology for Groundwater Conservation

The Freshwater Trust (TFT), a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon, IBM Research and SweetSense, a maker of low-cost Internet of things (IoT) devices, have inked a partnership deal to launch a blockchain pilot.

The solution would correctly track and monitor groundwater usage in the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta which is tagged as one of the largest and most at risk aquifers in North America.

Specifically, the project aims to show how the use of blockchain technology and remote IoT sensors can foster freshwater conservation by accurately measuring groundwater usage in real-time, in a transparent manner.

Per the team, the IoT sensors will send water extraction data to orbiting satellites and store the accurate data on the IBM Blockchain network.

That’s not all; smart contracts will also be employed to execute transactions automatically on the system once specific conditions are met.

Seamless Tracking and Monitoring

If all goes as planned, the team has made it clear that the DLT and IoT solution will make it possible for consumers, including farmers, financiers, as well as regulators, to seamlessly monitor and track the use of groundwater.

In the same vein, the project aims to show how sustainable pumping levels can be achieved through the trading of groundwater use shares in the State of California.

Farmers and other individual water users who need more substantial amounts beyond their share cap can easily buy groundwater shares from those who cannot make use of all the water supplied to them.

In other words, with DLT, farmers and other users in the region can easily trade or sell their water credits on a peer-to-peer basis, thereby eliminating water wastage.

Commenting on the development, Freshwater Fund Director at TFT, Alex Johnson noted that:

“Our primary goal is to use new technologies to develop a system that makes getting groundwater more sustainable, transparent, collaborative and accurate process.”

With each passing day, blockchain technology keeps gaining traction in a vast array of sectors in the global economy.

In January 2019, BTCManagerinformed that IBM and Minehub Technologies have collaborated to launch a DLT solution for the mineral concentrates supply chain.

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IBM Partnership Uses Blockchain, IoT to Combat Drought in California

The data will then be recorded onto the cloud-hosted and smart contract-compatible IBM Blockchain Platform. Water consumers — including farmers, …

A collaborative IBM project using blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) to tackle drought is underway in the United States state of California, according to a press release published Feb. 8.

IBM Research and sensor tech provider SweetSense have reportedly partnered with non-profit organization The Freshwater Trust (TFT) and the University of Colorado Boulder to use blockchain and IoT technology to sustainably manage groundwater use in what they describe as “one of the largest and most at risk aquifers in North America” — located in northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rock, from which groundwater can be extracted and distributed across a region’s ecosystem. Covering 1,100 square miles, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is reportedly considered to be the “nexus of California’s statewide water system,” and will thus be the testing ground for the new sustainability pilot.

According to the press release, the project will involve the use of IoT sensors to transmit water extraction data to orbiting satellites, which are simultaneously used to detect rainfall and weather correlations. The data will then be recorded onto the cloud-hosted and smart contract-compatible IBM Blockchain Platform.

Water consumers — including farmers, financers and regulators — can use a web-based dashboard to interface with the blockchain and monitor groundwater use in real time.

With accurate tracking in place, the system can then be used to issue so-called “groundwater shares” that can be purchased and traded by actors in the region, so that those who do not require all their assigned water supply can exchange it as credits with those who require more.

To contextualize the initiative, the press release notes that TFT has helped to establish the Northern Delta Groundwater Sustainability Agency, which integrates multiple smaller agencies under one canopy to work together on sustainable groundwater usage. The agency is one of a series of such entities statewide, which were mandated to tackle the environmental challenge after California signed its Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in 2014.

Beyond the U.S., SweetSense has reportedly been implementing its sensor technology to monitor groundwater supplies for over a million people in Kenya and Ethiopia, with plans to expand to 5 million by the end of 2019.

As reported last fall, the World Economic Forum (WEF) foundation has outlined more than 65 blockchain use cases for solving the “most pressing” environmental challenges globally. Beyond improving legacy systems, the WEF foundation proposed that blockchain solutions will, among other areas, completely transform the management of supply chains, decentralized energy and water systems, sustainable fundraising sources and carbon markets.

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