ISWS-Waterly partnership digitizes groundwater data

Water flowing through a culvert

by Tiffany Jolley, Prairie Research Institute

The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is partnering with Waterly, an Illinois-based water sector operations data analytics company, to collect groundwater pumping data from South Elgin, West Dundee, Joliet, McHenry County, and Arbury Hills.

Leveraging Waterly software will allow the ISWS groundwater science team to acquire almost real-time water pumping data that will amplify the team’s ability to forecast aquifer changes and gain a better understanding of current and future water risks across Illinois. 

The Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP), a statewide inventory of water use and withdrawals in Illinois, requires public water suppliers, self-supplied industry water users, and agricultural irrigation water users to report their water use and withdrawals.

While the legal mandate for data collection is limited to annual reporting, more frequent data can show valuable trend details that can make a massive difference in the forecasted availability of a water supply. 

“If we had monthly pumping data as well as monthly water level data, we would be able to understand more of the variability between observed and estimated water levels,” said Daniel Abrams, associate research scientist and ground flow modeler at ISWS.

In the case of northeast Illinois, groundwater withdrawals become unsustainable when the deeper sandstone layers become dewatered. As an aquifer approaches the end of its lifespan, little details make a big difference, and little details go unnoticed with annual data collection.

The City of Joliet facilitated a pilot project in 2019 that provided monthly data to the ISWS to assess local and regional water supply. The actual observed groundwater levels changed significantly throughout the year at many facilities, an observation not apparent from just looking at the annual numbers. 

The year 2030 is key for many at-risk wells in the region, because Joliet (the largest water user in the region) intends to find an alternative source by that date. Even still, modeling indicates that when Joliet switches from using the aquifer, many communities and industries will still have at-risk water supplies, particularly during peak pumping conditions. These peak pumping conditions could only be evaluated by efforts to collect monthly data.

This story first appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original story.

Global Plastic Watch: Satellite eyes pinpoint waste from space to reduce ocean pollution

Read the full story from the Minderoo Foundation.

A cutting-edge new tool developed by Minderoo Foundation has identified thousands of waste sites across 25 countries for the first time using advanced satellite data technology and machine learning to measure piles of plastic waste from space.

Global Plastic Watch is a tool which combines earth observation with artificial intelligence to create the first-ever near-real-time high-resolution map of plastic pollution. This is the largest open-source dataset of plastic waste across dozens of countries. The aim of the tool is to help authorities to better manage plastic leakage into the marine environment.

FAO unveils new public tool based on agricultural census data

Read the full story from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is endowing FAOSTAT, the world’s largest agricultural data base, with an important new domain that enables much easier comparison and assessment of trends over time of the agricultural structures of all Member countries. 

An open access portal serving as a global public good, FAOSTAT gathers and harmonizes a wealth of data on the production, trade and consumption in the agricultural sectors, by far the world’s largest economic sector in terms of employment and sustaining livelihoods. In recent years FAO has added an increasing array of critical information on greenhouse gas emissions, land use, forest cover and investment. Now it is adding “Structural Data from Agricultural Censuses,” which present fine-grained national reports that track, among others, how large farm holdings are, who works on them, and who owns them. 

USEPA’s national PFAS datasets compile and integrate state and federal data, but gaps remain

Read the full story at JD Supra.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has made available a collection of National PFAS Datasets, which collects a variety of PFAS data from different state and federal sources on one convenient webpage.  Note that, for datasets for which USEPA was not involved in the collection of data and cannot vouch for its accuracy or completeness, it offers caveats to that effect. 

Easy access to environmental research data

Read the full story from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (New Zealand).

Identifying unknown organisms, forecasting the weather and understanding the potential impacts of a tsunami. These are all possibilities opened up by a new website that has been built to provide easy access to an enormous range of environmental research data.

Electricity Map

Electricity Map’s open-source visualization shows the the climate impact of global electricity use in real time. Raw data are retrieved from a variety of public data sources, typically transmission system operators, balancing entities or market operators, which are listed here.

Net Zero Tracker

The Net Zero Tracker collects data on targets net zero targets pledged by nations, states and regions, cities and companies, as well as on factors that indicate the integrity of those targets — essentially, how serious the entity setting the target is about meaningfully cutting its net emissions to zero.

It includes data on:

  • all countries and territories, every region in the 25 largest emitting countries and all cities with 500,000+ inhabitants.
  • an overview of the 2,000 largest publicly-traded companies in the world by revenue. They analyze the key components of any net zero (or other) targets the company has announced.

A new near-real-time global database on CO2 emissions from air transport

Read the full story from OECD.

Air transport facilitates international trade and tourism and contributes to economic growth and job creation, but it also produces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to global warming. The OECD has developed a new database using a near real-time data source from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to produce estimates of CO2 emissions from air transport. The new estimates have global coverage and ensure a consistent allocation of CO2 emissions across countries. The data and methods are described in a Working Paper published today.

EPA releases national PFAS datasets

As part of EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the Agency is compiling and integrating a collection of data that can be used to evaluate what is known about per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) reporting, testing, and occurrences in communities. As part of this effort, EPA is integrating data available nationally with other information from states and localities that are testing for PFAS pursuant to their own regulatory initiatives. 

The data sets include:

  • Ambient Environmental Sampling for PFAS
  • Drinking Water Testing (UCMR)
  • Drinking Water Testing (State)
  • PFAS Manufacture and Imports
  • Superfund Sites with PFAS Detections
  • Clean Water Act Discharge Monitoring
  • Federal Sites
  • Facilities in Industries that May be Handling PFAS
  • Transfers
  • Spills
  • Toxics Release Inventory

Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

Injection start-up day at the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project. Pictured are project principal investigator Sallie Greenberg, second from right, and other project partners.

by Tricia Barker, Prairie Research Institute

The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) at an almost-commercial scale, is releasing datasets in two easily accessible locations.

Complete datasets are available through the U.S. Department of Energy’s EDX site. Curated datasets are also being released through CO2DataShare, an international open-access portal managed by SINTEF.

Over three years, approximately 1 million metric tons of CO2 captured from the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) ethanol production facility in Decatur, Illinois, were injected into the Mount Simon Sandstone, more than 2 km deep in the Illinois Basin. This carbon capture and storage (CCS) research and development project was carried out by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – National Energy Technology Laboratory to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CO2 geological storage as a mitigation tool to address global climate change. The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) at the University of Illinois was the principal investigator for and manager of the IBDP, with the Indiana Geological Survey (now the Indiana Geological and Water Survey) and the Kentucky Geological Survey as key partners. Other partners included ADM, Trimeric Corporation, and Schlumberger.

The infrastructure installed for the IBDP includes three deep wells: injection, monitoring, and geophysical. It also includes 17 shallow groundwater monitoring wells, microseismic monitoring with down-hole, four-component sensors in the injection well, an in-well geophysical monitoring array for repeat plume monitoring using vertical seismic profiling, a compression/dehydration facility, and a 1.9 km pipeline. The available data include information from pre-injection site characterization (2007-2011), injection and monitoring (2011-2014), and post-injection (2014-2021).

“The ISGS continues its exceptional service to DOE and the swelling number of CCS stakeholders here and abroad by sharing the rich data products generated from the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project,” said Darin Damiani, Carbon Transport and Storage Senior Program Manager for the DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “DOE believes sharing high-value data from projects like the IBDP will help catalyze the growth and safe deployment of CCS in the U.S., as well as in nations looking to CCS as a component of their decarbonization strategy.” 

The IBDP developed and implemented a rigorous monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) program for the captured and stored CO2. The extensive MVA activities include high-fidelity induced seismicity monitoring, 3D seismic surveying, 3D vertical seismic profiling, soil flux monitoring, atmospheric monitoring, shallow groundwater monitoring, and deep subsurface fluid sampling to ensure the COremains safely stored underground.

“The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project led the way in developing and field-testing the full CCS value chain with carbon dioxide from biofuels production. We are proud to have created a project that has produced so much valuable data to share with colleagues and projects around the world,” said project principal investigator Sallie Greenberg.

Researchers interested in full the continuous microseismic dataset (not housed on EDX) should contact DOE NETL at for more information.

An international collaboration between the United States and Norway has also been created to share selected datasets from the project on the CO2DataShare open access portal, including:  

  • GIS and georeferenced Imagery: provides a GIS-based portrayal and spatial archive of the IBDP project wells and the distribution of near-surface monitoring and sampling installations that were present at the IBDP field site.
  • Seismic data: includes IBDP 3D seismic (volume reprocessed), IMDP 3D time-lapse VSP (vertical seismic profile) (reprocessed), and IBDP passive seismic events monitoring (microseismic).
  • Well information: includes data collected from the project’s three deep wells, such as geophysical logs, core and sidewall core analyses, and various well tests. It also includes stratigraphic tops picked from the project wells and representative geologic cross-sections, as well as well design summary sheets and directional surveys.
  • Horizons and faults: exported from the Petrel geological model.
  • IBDP geological model: features a Petrel model containing wells, horizons, and fault interpretations from the project.
  • Technical reports and final project report: includes geo-mechanical reports, site map images, static model reports, stratigraphy, well completion reports, well diagrams, well testing reports and the final report (Sallie E. Greenberg, Ph.D: ILLINOIS BASIN—DECATUR PROJECT Final Report: An Assessment of Geologic Carbon Sequestration Options in the Illinois Basin: Phase III. Illinois State Geological Survey. July 2021.). Other selected reports and outreach materials also are available.

CO₂ DataShare, a platform for sharing CO₂ storage data, was launched in 2020. The portal builds on UNINETT Sigma2’s solution for data storage, combined with a tailored frontend that was developed using the open-source software CKAN.

“We are excited to be able to share the unique data from the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project with the CCS communities around the world,” said CO2DataShare project manager Grethe Tangen. “The dataset complements the published data from Norwegian CO2 storage projects. In particular, the microseismic data represents a valuable addition to the CO2 DataShare dataset portfolio.”

Information about CO2DataShare can be found on its project webpage.