The Freshwater Trust, is partnering with IBM Research and SweetSense Inc. with the ambition of making groundwater usage sustainable. Jointly funded by the Water Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the project’s scientists and engineers will demonstrate how the blockchain and remote Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can accurately measure groundwater usage transparently, and in real-time, in California’s Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta.
The Freshwater Trust is a nonprofit institution working to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems while SweetSense Inc are providers of low-cost satellite connected sensors which can track and monitor groundwater use.
The sensors will transmit water extraction information to orbiting satellites and then to the IBM Blockchain Platform – hosted in the IBM Cloud – which will record all data exchanges.
Through a web-based dashboard, water consumers, including farmers; financers and regulators will all be able to monitor and track the use of groundwater to demonstrate how sustainable pumping levels can be achieved through the trading of groundwater use shares in the State of California.
The collaboration arose in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which was signed into California law in 2014. SGMA requires that local water agencies within all medium and high-priority sub-basins form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) to prepare a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (SGP). The GSAs are charged with developing and implementing a plan to make their local groundwater usage sustainable by 2040.
Blockchain Can Bridge Critical Trust And Transparency Gaps
An IBM Press release states that individual users who require groundwater amounts beyond their share cap will be able to “purchase” groundwater shares from users who do not require all of their supply at a market-regulated rate. For example, if a wine producer finds they need more ground water in order to save their vintage after suffering a very dry season, the vintner can buy additional water shares without impacting negatively on the water table.
“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,” said Dr. Solomon Assefa, Vice President, Emerging Market Solutions and Director, IBM Research Africa. “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”.Additional research support will be provided by the University of Colorado Boulder.