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Page added on October 31, 2009

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Lessons from oil industry may help address groundwater crisis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Although declining streamflows and half-full reservoirs have gotten most of the attention in water conflicts around the United States, some of the worst battles of the next century may be over groundwater, experts say

A new analysis by researchers at Oregon State University outlines the scope of this problem, but also points out that some tools may be available to help address it, in part by borrowing heavily from lessons learned the hard way by the oil industry.

“It’s been said that groundwater is the oil of this century,” said Todd Jarvis, associate director of the Institute for Water and Watersheds at OSU. “Part of the issue is it’s running out, meaning we’re now facing ‘peak water’ just the way the U.S. encountered ‘peak oil’ production in the 1970s. But there are also some techniques developed by the oil industry to help manage this crisis, and we could learn a lot from them.”

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