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,