In the News

Michael Kiparsky in the news:

How to create effective groundwater agencies

Michael Kiparsky and Holly Doremus write for News Deeply, June 8, 2016

Achieving groundwater sustainability is too important, and too challenging, to leave in the hands of haphazardly designed agencies.

California needs strong, fair and effective groundwater agencies

Holly Doremus and Michael Kiparsky write for The Fresno Bee, May 16, 2016

Groundwater provides about one-third to half of the state’s water supply and an essential lifeline when rivers run low during drought. Groundwater mismanagement is distressingly common; with lack of regulation and heavy pumping, overuse has destroyed infrastructure and put farms, communities and ecosystems at risk.

California moves to tally sea-level rise risks, hunt down possible defenses

Michael Kiparsky quoted in ClimateWire, September 4, 2014

Mike Kiparsky … said that recently, there’s been “an explosion of interest” in adaptation strategies. “It’s an issue the state is going to have to grapple with in the near term” and in the longer term.

The future of fracking in California

Michael Kiparsky quoted in Sunset Magazine, April 2014

“It’s very easy to say, rhetorically, that there haven’t been any instances of water contamination documented in the state, so what’s there to worry about,” says environmental scientist Michael Kiparsky…. Moreover, Kiparsky says, it could take decades or longer before contamination migrates far enough to be detected. “The problem then becomes similar to Superfund sites, where the activity that caused the pollution didn’t come to light as hazardous until later, and often until the perpetrator was long gone.”

How to survive a future without water

Michael Kiparsky quoted in Salon, March 1, 2014

“By farming this tremendous annual crop of Kentucky bluegrass, we contribute to the annual amount of water that needs to be supplied,” notes Michael Kiparsky…. It’s estimated that half of residential water in the state is used outdoors.


Fracking: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan would provide water for mining

Michael Kiparsky quoted in San Jose Mercury News, December 27, 2013
According to Michael Kiparsky … fracking puts water supplies at risk, especially when developers drill through aquifers en route to gas reserves in shale. Frack water is so contaminated, water cannot be recovered, and the chemicals are left in the ground.

‘Green’ paving helps the bay, human health

Michael Kiparsky and Max Gomberg write for San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2013

Every time it rains, San Francisco Bay gets a little sicker. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Asphalt streets collect pollutants from motor oil to metals from brake pads to nutrients from garden fertilizers. Rains quickly wash it all into storm drains, local streams and the bay. When combined with decades of industrial pollution, storm-water runoff damages marine life and kills fish, leaving those that survive too toxic to eat. We cannot completely repair the bay’s ecology, but we can improve its health and ours by changing the way we build city streets.

All fracked up: mixing oil and water rattles the Golden State

Michael Kiparsky quoted and Jayni Hein cited in California Lawyer, November, 2013

Kiparsky says there would have to be a huge increase in fracking before it registers as a significant part of the state’s overall water use. “That said, all water is local,” he adds. “The impacts on local water sources could be an issue. We just don’t know at this point.”

A recent article he coauthored with Berkeley Law colleague Jayni Foley Hein states: “Fracturing ‘flowback’ … and ‘produced water’ (all waste-water that emerges from the well after production begins) contain potentially harmful chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Produced water is also highly saline and potentially harmful to humans, aquatic life, and ecosystems.”

Could fracking the Monterey Shale lead to the next Big One?

Michael Kiparsky quoted in The Bay Nature Institute, September 17, 2013

“When a hole is drilled, it creates a conduit through which oil, gas, and fracking fluids could move upwards,” Kiparsky says. “If there was a casing failure, that movement into the bottom of the aquifer could happen within hours or days, but wouldn’t necessarily be expressed at the surface, or be visible, for decades or centuries.”… Kiparsky warns of the risks of irreversible contamination of surface and groundwater near wells, unless the method is carefully monitored and controlled.

Why is there so little innovation in water infrastructure?

Michael Kiparsky article cited in The Atlantic, September 13, 2013

In “The Innovation Deficit in Urban Water,” the authors argue that water infrastructure is systemically resistant to innovation−and put forth some ideas for what we can do about it.

Can we save our urban water systems?

Michael Kiparsky article cited in TerraDaily, September 9, 2013

The article, entitled “The Innovation Deficit in Urban Water,” contends that for new innovations to be implemented successfully, engineers must understand the social, economic, institutional, and political mechanisms that underlie the human-technology interface.

Fracking is under dispute in California

Michael Kiparsky quoted in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, July 30, 2013

Kiparsky is particularly worried over what is still to come in California. “Since we don’t yet understand the existing risks, we certainly don’t understand the risks of technologies that have not yet been used.”

Fracking in California’s oil frontier

Michael Kiparsky quoted in The Sacramento Bee, July 7, 2013

“There is tremendous (scientific) uncertainty,” said Michael Kiparsky … co-author of a recent report that found gaping holes in California’s regulation of fracking. “California has historically been a leader in the governance of environmental issues” –but not fracking, Kiparsky said. “There is the opportunity to learn from other states … and try not to repeat their learning experiences.”

Assembly fracking hearing looks at impacts to water quality

Jayni Foley Hein, Michael Kiparsky quoted in Association of California Water Agencies, May 14, 2013

“Once fracking has been conducted, its effects may be impossible to reverse,” Kiparsky said, adding that “the science remains uncertain, particularly in the face of technology that is rapidly evolving.”

Jayni Foley Hein … added that the regulations put forward in DOGGR’s discussion draft are currently not as robust as those found in other states. She said improvements are needed to the public notice process pertaining to fracking operations, as well as disclosure about “trade-secret” fracking chemicals.

Fracking in state needs close oversight

Jayni Foley Hein, Michael Kiparsky write for San Francisco Chronicle, May 12, 2013 (registration required)

New fracturing techniques combined with demand for oil have led to alarming projections of dramatically increased fracking activity in California. Such developments may have outstripped the ability of responsible government agencies to effectively oversee fracking activity and its attendant impacts on our land, air and water resources.

Report says California is unprepared to regulate fracking

Michael Kiparsky interviewed by KCRW, April 17, 2013

“Our report focused on risks to water. The key risks are for contaminations of underground sources of drinking water, which occurs—or which might occur—because many oil wells drill directly through aquifers on their way to the oil or gas reserves below. Another risk is from surface spills and from operations near the rigs on the surface.”