Water Policy Program Research

Environmental Flows

Water withdrawals for drinking water or irrigation, and upstream dam management  can affect how much water is in a river. In a project with state agencies and nonprofits, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring "environmental flows," a new approach to water management. 

Hydraulic Fracturing

Advances in horizontal and hydraulic fracturing technologies have enabled gas companies greater access to shale gas formations deep in the earth, securing a role for natural gas in the nation’s clean energy future. Research by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions looks more closely at water and wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Reservoir Reallocation

Because much of the United States relies on reservoirs for hydropower, water supply, and protection from floods, it is critical to rethink how to manage reservoirs in a changing world. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is developing a database to compare federal agencies' mandated operations with actual operations, and to determine if current legislation provides sufficient flexibility to quickly respond to changing climates.

Water Use on Military Bases

Climate change will significantly affect the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is looking to better understand how behavior can influence water use and supplies by studying habits of military base occupants.  

Smart Water Grid Technology

Infrastructure to conserve water resources is essential as the population grows and the needs for water increase. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is exploring how a smart grid for water may help address water scarcity. 

The Aspen-Nicholas Institute Water Forum

In 2014, this invite-only forum brought together a select group of business, utility, finance, and emerging technology executives; federal, state, and local policy makers; and other thought leaders in a roundtable setting for an intentional, cross-sector, and forward-thinking dialogue focused on the transformative change needed in U.S. water resource management. The forum was meant inform ongoing discussions about securing a sustainable water future.

Water Quality

Millions in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley are exposed to naturally occurring contaminants such as fluoride and arsenic each year. As part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is studying water quality, in particular the impact of long-term exposure to contaminants such as fluoride, in the region’s groundwater.

Silent Tsunami

One of the Nichols Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions first projects was to work with the Aspen Institute to create the Silent Tsunami report—providing a supporting impetus for creation of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which provides funding for water projects in the developing world. The Nicholas Institute has maintained a consistent dialogue with the legislative and executive branches about the implementation of that act and related programs.