This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.


Call for Papers: Technology for Environment, Energy, Transportation and Logistics, etc.

Thanks to Anshuman

Colin, Peter, others -- let me know if you would like to contribute or co-author a paper. Seems to be there is lots of material we can leverage (AoT studies and elsewhere)



Attached is a call for papers for an edited book with a working titled "
Technologies That May Shape Our Future" being edited by Frank Himpel
(University of Mainz, Germany) and Anshuman Khare (Athabasca University,

The book would try to capture the experience with emerging technologies in
all spheres of life including environment and climate change, logistics,
mobility and personal transportation, social networks, education, housing
and urbanization, natural resource management, energy, etc. The papers
would deal with evolution of the technology, stage at which it is in terms
of adoption, experiences with the technology, opportunities it presents and
challenges in commercialization. Each paper would deal with one technology.

The papers submitted for book will be peer reviewed in two phases – the
first phase will involve evaluation of proposals for the book. The editors
(along with the Editorial Board) will look at the relevance of the
technology being written about and its potential impact on mankind in the
years to come. A selected number of authors who submit their proposal will
be approached for contributing a final / full paper.

In phase 2, the final papers will be blind reviewed by academic and
practitioner experts assigned to the paper by the Editors and the Editorial
Board. For acceptance two of the three reviewers should agree.

The target audience of the book are academics and researchers in the field
as well as practitioners responsible for technology, innovation, and
operations management

The publisher (Gabler verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany) has a requirement that we
stay within 200 pages and as such we are looking for very focused papers
that target some of the most significant technologies that are making their
way in our lives. If the response rate is beyond our expectations, we will
plan a second volume in the near future.

The target date for publication is Fall 2009 if everything goes as planned.
There will be no financial implications for contributing authors.

Authors in North America and Asia requiring further information should
contact Anshuman Khare by e-mail at while authors
from Europe and other parts of the world can contact Frank Himpel at .

Kindly forward this call for papers to colleagues and contacts who you
think would be interested in this project.


Thanks to Dr.

Dr. Anshuman Khare
Professor for Operations Management
         and Sustainable Development
Centre for Innovative Management
Athabasca University
Suite 301, 22 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue
St. Albert AB T8N 1B4

Phone: 780-4187533
Cell: 780-9656785
Fax: 780-4592093


Water issues bubbling up to the surface

WATER: Outdated agreements, more drilling lead to escalation in fights over allocation (11/06/2008)

Scott Streater, special to Land Letter

States across the West are fighting over dwindling water resources, a trend legal experts say will only get worse as they struggle with growing populations and intense drilling activity that consumes a lot of water.

The state of Montana is suing Wyoming, claiming it has violated a decades-old water-use agreement with Montana by withdrawing more water than allowed from two rivers in the Yellowstone River Basin. Kansas is in a legal dispute with Nebraska and Colorado, claiming that landowners in both states have taken much more water from the Republican River than is allowed under their water-sharing compact.

And in an twist on these growing interstate feuds, a group of ranchers in the Nebraska Panhandle are suing their own state for what they contend is a long-standing failure to enforce a water-use compact with Wyoming on the Niobrara River. The ranchers say Wyoming is withdrawing too much water from the river, much to the detriment of ranching needs.

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide the interstate disputes between Wyoming and Montana and between Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. In the process, the states will spend tens of millions of dollars in fees for lawyers and water experts to wade through the complex issues, which touch on enforcement of water-quality regulations, private property rights and the role of groundwater in the flow of downstream surface waters.

The stakes are huge. Many Western states are in the middle of a decade-long drought that is stressing already fragile water resources. A further shortage of water could cripple new development and slow energy production, as well as disrupt long-established industries like agriculture and ranching.

Fear over future water supplies is the biggest reason for the recent spate of water disputes, said Reed Benson, a water law specialist at the University of New Mexico.

And there likely will be many more water disputes in the near future, Reed and other experts agree, given that populations were relatively low and there was plenty of water available when many of the interstate compacts were signed.

Douglas Grant, a water law specialist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said, "As supply gets less and less able to handle demand, there is going to be more conflict."

How much is too much?

The Tongue and Powder rivers flow down from the mountains in northeastern Wyoming into southeastern Montana, but not as much water is making its way downstream to Montana as in years past.

Montana contends that Wyoming is violating the terms of the 1951 Yellowstone River compact, which governs how Wyoming and Montana share water from the Tongue and Powder rivers, as well as other waterways in the basin. Because the compact stipulates that disputes must be resolved by the Supreme Court, Montana earlier this year filed suit in the high court against its southern neighbor, arguing that Wyoming is taking too much water from both rivers, to the detriment of ranchers and farmers (Land Letter, Feb. 21)

The Yellowstone River Basin, with key tributaries that provide disputed water supplies for Montana and Wyoming. Map courtesy of USGS.

Among other things, Montana claims that Wyoming has built new storage reservoirs in the basin and is hoarding water for irrigation, recreational uses and energy development.

Wyoming State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell countered that the storage reservoirs were not built along rivers covered under the intrastate compact, but on their tributaries, and are not governed by the compact. He also claimed that Montana has not shown how landowners there have been harmed by Wyoming's use of water from the two rivers.

Instead, Wyoming argued, the cause for the reduced river flows is due almost entirely to a severe drought that has plagued both states since 1999. Tyrrell noted that only a fraction of water users in Wyoming are receiving all the water they need, thereby affecting users downstream in Montana.

"The drought has focused the issue in the last few years on the state of water resources in the region," Tyrrell said. "Unfortunately, it's sharpened the focus of those on the other side of the border on us."

The drought has certainly played a role, but the water shortage is due mostly to overuse in Wyoming, said Mary Sexton, director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Sexton said she recently flew over the border between the two states and noted that the vegetation on the Wyoming side is lush and green, while on the Montana side it is mostly dry and brown.

The Supreme Court late last month assigned a special master to oversee the case. Barton Thompson, a California lawyer and the director of the Stanford University law school's Woods Institute for the Environment, will have the power to subpoena information, file reports with the court, set hearings and outline the process for the states to file motions with the court.

But it could be years before the issue is resolved.

The role of groundwater

Central to the Wyoming-Montana fight, as well as another water dispute between Kansas and the states of Nebraska and Colorado, are the role of groundwater and its contribution to surface water flows.

Montana officials say Wyoming is allowing excessive pumping of the groundwater reserves that feed the Tongue and Powder rivers. In the Kansas dispute, state officials say Nebraska and Colorado are pumping too much groundwater near the Republican River.

Neither the Yellowstone River compact nor the Republican River water-use compact -- each signed more than five decades ago -- even mentions groundwater. The reason is simple: Little was understood at the time about the hydrological interaction between surface water and groundwater. But in the decades since the compacts were implemented, science has revealed much more about groundwater -- specifically, the important role it plays in recharging surface waters, said Bill Horak, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.

"No one would deny at this point that this interconnectivity between the two doesn't exist," said Horak, who also chairs a three-member commission that oversees the Yellowstone River compact.

"The Montana delegation asserts that in this day and age we need to think about what we know now about the connection between surface and groundwater," Horak said. "It's also understandable that the Wyoming delegation says we can't be expected to do that because the compact doesn't use the term groundwater."

Because groundwater was almost never addressed in most water-use compacts, downstream states have increasingly been forced to go to court to save water supplies depleted by increased groundwater use, said Benson, the water law specialist.

"These disputes between states over groundwater use are beginning to loom large," he said.

A long and bitter feud

A case in point is the ongoing dispute between Kansas and Nebraska. The two states have been battling over groundwater use and its impacts on the Republican River for more than a decade.

Though the 1943 Republican River Compact does not even mention groundwater, about 60 percent of the water that Nebraska takes from the Republican River Basin is from groundwater sources, said David Barfield, chief engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources.

Kansas, and to a lesser extent Colorado, recognized years ago that groundwater use was draining the Republican River and placed moratoriums on new wells in the basin, Barfield said.

"Nebraska did not," Barfield said. "They just kept drilling and drilling and drilling despite our complaints."

In 1998, Kansas sued Nebraska, claiming Nebraska was taking more water from the Republican River than allowed. Kansas and Nebraska eventually worked out a settlement, with both states and Colorado acknowledging that the language in the compact was broad enough to include groundwater in the water-sharing agreement. The settlement outlined steps to address groundwater use in each state and established dates for a series of tests to ensure all three states were following the settlement.

However, Barfield said, Nebraska and Colorado are pumping more groundwater than the compact allows, reducing river flows to thirsty downstream farmers in northwest and north-central Kansas. As a result, Kansas has filed another complaint with the Supreme Court against Nebraska and also plans to file a complaint against Colorado.

Nebraska officials declined to discuss the case publicly while the litigation is still pending. But they have stated in the past that they have already implemented policies reducing groundwater pumping in the Republican River Basin.

The impact of gas drilling

While much of the groundwater in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado is used for irrigation, a great deal of the groundwater in the Yellow River Basin in Wyoming is removed while drilling for methane gas.

The Tongue and Powder rivers run through a coal-rich region in southeastern Montana and northern Wyoming, and drilling for methane gas there has exploded (see related story). The process requires drilling into the coal seams and pumping to the surface large volumes of groundwater to release the gas.

The groundwater is mostly stored in dirt reservoirs, where it evaporates, or is used to water livestock or pumped into the nearest surface water.

There are estimated 20,000 coal-bed methane drilling permits in Wyoming alone. The Bureau of Land Management has studied coal-bed methane development in both Wyoming and Montana and estimates that as many as 77,000 wells could be drilled in the next 20 years in the basin.

"Those aquifers where they are drawing water contribute to the baseload of the Tongue River," said Art Hayes, a Montana farmer and president of the Tongue River Water Users Association. "We're concerned we could see significant decreases in the river's flow."

Degraded water quality

Drilling affects not just water quantity, but also water quality. The groundwater that is pumped out by the gas wells tends to be high in salts, and officials in Montana say the groundwater that is coming down the Tongue and Powder rivers has levels of salinity that can damage soils, crops and vegetation.

Coalbed methane discharge point in the Powder River Basin. Courtesy of USGS.

They say drilling for coal-bed methane is to blame. If BLM's estimate of 77,000 new coal-bed methane drilling sites in the next two decades is correct, 2 trillion gallons of wastewater could be produced.

Some farmers report a 30 percent crop loss in the last three years, Hayes said, and they blame high-saltwater content measured in the water.

One of those farmers is Roger Muggli, who owns a 1,700-acre alfalfa and barley farm near Miles City, Mont. He said water from the Tongue River ruined the soil in one section of the farm and not even a heavy application of fertilizer helps. "They keep permitting these coal-bed methane wells, and all the while we're going down the tubes," Muggli said.

Both Wyoming and the energy industry maintain there is no clear evidence that groundwater pumped up during drilling has degraded water quality in Montana.

But the issue has opened up a second front in the two-state water war.

Two years ago, Montana added salinity to its surface-water quality rules, and U.S. EPA this year approved Montana's water quality policy, meaning surface waters flowing into Montana from any adjacent state are required under the Clean Water Act to meet the Montana standards.

A group of energy companies, including Marathon Oil Co. and Devon Energy, is suing EPA in federal court over its approval of the water-quality standards as they apply to the Tongue and Powder rivers. The companies' chief concern: Montana's standards will hamper coal-bed methane development in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

Frustrated ranchers take action

A group of 11 Nebraska ranchers in September filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that it has allowed "significant groundwater development" in Wyoming to reduce the flow of the Niobrara River in Nebraska -- violating the intrastate water-use compact the two states signed in 1962.

The ranchers, according to the 21-page lawsuit, contend that the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources should force Wyoming to study the effects of groundwater pumping on the Niobrara River in Nebraska, as required in the water-use compact. Such a study, according to the lawsuit, would reveal that increased groundwater pumping in Wyoming is making the Niobrara River dry, much to the detriment of the Nebraska ranchers that depend on it.

Steven Smith, the ranchers' Scottsbluff, Neb.-based attorney, did not return calls seeking comment.

Justin Lavene, special counsel to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, said they have talked to Wyoming officials about the groundwater study. But Lavene added, "I don't know that the information is there to show that groundwater pumping in Wyoming is causing reductions in the flow of surface water in the Niobrara River."

Still, Lavene said the state is sensitive to the ranchers' concerns. "Water is such an important resource, and in the past where the main driver of water use in the nation was irrigation that has now expanded," he said. "Now the water is being used for municipalities, industry and recreation and wildlife interests. Everybody wants to make sure it is being managed properly."

Scott Streater is a freelance journalist based in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Climate debate and risk management-Part 2

Many of you have seen the earlier version of this video. Quirky but a nice way to introduce your colleagues to Global Warming 101
Thanks to Jon and Graham

Worth 15 minutes .. 5 to read the email below and laucnh the link, 10 to watch the video

----- Forwarded by Jon Z Bentley/UK/IBM on 06/11/2008 09:47 -----
----- Forwarded by Graham Whitney/UK/IBM on 06/11/2008 07:20 -----