Sustainable water management is one of the most challenging issues of our time, especially in the arid western US. Maximizing the benefits of water supplies requires careful measurement of availability and use. However, one important information gap is compounding this challenge: the lack of consistent consumptive water use data for irrigated agriculture, which accounts for the majority of water use in the western US. To date, access to this data has been limited and expensive, keeping it out of the hands of most water users and decision-makers who could benefit from its use.
Brown Bag Webinar - The Internet of Water: Modern Water Data Infrastructure for 21st Century Water Management
Peter Colohan, Executive Director, Internet of Water Project, Duke University
Ashley Ward, Senior Policy Associate for Engagement and Outreach, Internet of Water Project, Duke University
Publicly collected water data needed to answer fundamental water questions are managed by multiple agencies across different scales of government and non-government organizations for different purposes. Since these data are scattered across multiple platforms with different standards, much of it cannot be re-used beyond the primary purpose for which it was collected and is seldom transformed into information to support real-time decision-making. The Internet of Water (IoW) project, initiated in 2018, seeks to address this challenge by advancing the transformation and modernization of water data infrastructure in the United States. The IoW is developing low-cost technologies for sharing and integrating water data implemented throughout a broad network and demonstrating the advantage of those technologies for improving water outcomes.
Notes from the Speakers
- We would welcome anyone who would like to join the Peer-to-Peer Network (P2P) to register on our site. The Network is open to anyone who would like to join and is working toward or wishes to develop a modern water data infrastructure. The P2P Network offers monthly webinars on topics of interest to those in the group, a Forum in which members can post information and/or questions where others, including our staff and experts from the webinars, respond, and a directory that is searchable by several criteria, such as area of expertise, so people can connect with their peers in other states. We’ve hosted webinars on how to convert the data infrastructure currently used for COVID wastewater surveillance to a more broadly used water data infrastructure. Stacy Timmons from the NMWDI recently talked about the effort in her state and how she’s worked with legislators there to create sustainability. And our data architect hosted an “ask the data architect” webinar where people submitted their questions and he addressed them during the webinar. That gives you an idea of the kind of topics we cover in the series.
- We mentioned several tools yesterday. Folks can visit our tools page on our website. Specifically we talked about Geoconnex, the tool to aid data discovery. I plan to send an email to Susan and Kyle Onda (our data architect) to connect the two of them and get this great Arizona hub online with Geoconnex.
- I also mentioned our Learning Center. The Learning Center has all kinds of information, including technical guidance and a Data 101 Guidebook; policy guidance (a full policy page is coming soon); a funding table where users can learn about possible sources of funding (soon this will be searchable – it is currently available via pdf); information on valuation of modern water data; along with other guidance, such as how to evaluate project impact or determine the types of federal agreements that fit a particular organization. All of these topics came up yesterday – what a great group of questions!
- We also host a blog series where we talk about water data issues and how to solve them. Blogs are released monthly and will cover general questions, such as “What is data fragmentation and why does it matter?” to more technical questions such as, “what is a persistent identifier?” The blogs are great for a range of audiences as some will be directed toward those who are not data scientists but perhaps work in the field or manage agencies that manage water, as well as more technical blogs aimed at data producers and users to better understand the emerging technologies in this space.
- There were a few questions on what constitutes a data hub. Folks can learn all about IoW Hubs and download the technical guidance on our Hubs page.
- And finally, there was quite a bit of discussion on community science. Our Community Science page features our partnership with the Water Data Collaborative (WDC) and hosts stories as well as guidance and links to available tools for community science groups.
Peter Colohan is the executive director of the Internet of Water, a project based at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Colohan comes to the IoW after nearly a decade of Federal service with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At NOAA, Colohan was a key advocate for the creation of the NOAA Water Initiative and served as a Federal Coordinating Lead Author for the Water Chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, published in November 2018. From 2012-2014, he served as the assistant director for Environmental Information within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama.
Ashley Ward's career has focused on engaging communities to identify and address issues, and helping communities develop long-term, sustainable strategies relevant to their particular community needs. Her previous work with NOAA’s Carolinas RISA team connected rural and urban communities and policy-decision makers with relevant climate and health data, particularly related to vulnerabilities and impacts. Engagement with communities across the Carolinas revealed a knowledge and access gap in climate data, wherein many communities did not have the necessary data and expertise to inform decision-making, planning, and preparedness. Ashley and her colleagues at CISA worked with community stakeholders to develop a suite of open-access, web-based tools to address these issues. Before her work with CISA, Ashley completed her PhD in Geography and worked with communities throughout NC on a host of issues such as local food availability and asset-based economic development strategies.
Brown Bag Webinar: OpenET – Filling One of the Biggest Data Gaps in Water Management
The International Arid Lands Consortium Virtual Conference
To commemorate 30 years of collaboration on arid lands issues, the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) is hosting a three-day international conference on arid lands. A key goal of the conference is to underscore the value of the IALC mission