Michael Kiparsky

New era on tap

Michael Kiparsky quoted by Bohemian.com, Dec. 7, 2016

Up until last year, when the law went into effect, groundwater could generally be pumped with impunity. “It was in essence a race to the bottom,” says Michael Kiparsky, director of UC Berkeley School of Law’s Wheeler Water Institute.

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.

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.


‘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.