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Groundwater Management Via Blockchain

February 12, 2019


It’s no surprise that technologies like AI, IoT and blockchain technology are all emerging together. These technologies work hand in hand to create incredible beneficial automated networks that have the potential to bring great improvements to our existing physical infrastructures, as well as the tasks of our daily life. Water in many places in the work is a scarce resource.


In California, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was launched in 2014 with the overall goal of a sustainable groundwater system by 2040. The Act created Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), which are local groups responsible for ensuring regional groundwater supplies are sustainably managed. One of their pilot projects will be using a blockchain network in combination with IoT technology to develop the systems for an AI powered, automated, state-wide groundwater network.


San Joaquin River Delta


In northern California, the San Joaquin River Delta covers 1,100 square miles, providing water to the San Francisco Bay Area and southern California. It supports regions of protected fish, plant and animal species, but 75% of the land is used for agriculture. Overall groundwater provides more than 33% of the water used by Californians in an average year and more than 50% of the water used by Californians in a drought year.


In the past, when groundwater has not been properly managed, it has caused overdraft, failed wells, deteriorated water quality, environmental damage, and irreversible land subsidence that damages infrastructure. Most importantly, this causes lasting damage to the capacity of aquifers to store water for the future. In order to address use and guidance for groundwater management, information on the amount of groundwater extraction, natural and artificial recharge, and groundwater evaluations are critical.


Blockchain & Satellite Sensors


The pilot beginning in northern California was funded by the Water Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The initial system will install a series of IoT sensors connected to aquifers to measure groundwater usage in real time. By connecting this data to a blockchain network, the data provides a fully transparent record of water use. Further, by essentially “tokenizing” water use, it can be transacted to the benefit of consumers or farmers who are using less water than the limits provide.


The sensors are provided by SweetSense Inc, which is already monitoring groundwater supplies for over a million people in Kenya and Ethiopia. The blockchain network receiving the data is built through the IBM Cloud network and Hyperledger Fabric. The system will allow for water smart contracts that can be activated through a web-based dashboard for all water consumers. Any individuals or businesses who want to use more groundwater than their share cap will be able to "purchase" groundwater shares from other users connected to the network.


"Based on a research project in Kenya with USAID, the Millennium Water Alliance and other partners we are now applying our expertise in building decision support systems for water management for surface and groundwater data aggregation, workflow optimization and analytics to address similar challenges in California. 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." - Dr. Solomon Assefa, Vice President, Emerging Market Solutions and Director, IBM Research Africa. 



By: BGN Editorial Staff

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