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HARC Newsletter | January 2018


HARC: 2017 Year in Review
Welcome to our January edition of HARC news. Each month we include a variety of blogs, featured projects, and researcher updates to provide a look inside HARC. As always, we appreciate your interest in our work, and want to begin our promising 2018 with reflections on the many achievements of 2017, as told throughout the year in our monthly dispatches.
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Featured Blogs
Improving Regional Resilience after Hurricane Harvey: The Need for New Strategies and Engagement
Resilient communities are better able to prepare, adapt and withstand disasters. Resilience strategies will help the region move forward, toward improved environmental, social and economic health and well-being.
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HARC’s LEED Platinum Building…
Beginning with the End in Mind
It’s all about how you start the process… beginning with the end in mind and finishing in alignment with those early goals. The journey to delivery of HARC’s new, green building is a great story about collaboration, setting clear goals with an organization’s leadership, and working with the design, engineering and construction teams early in the process to understand the effort required. This collaboration process is one that many of us in the design community hope to employ to deliver the highest quality building design and construction project when possible. That is the process that we aimed to apply in our relationship with HARC to design their new LEED Platinum headquarters. This level of clarity is in fact rare and is all the more reason that the journey to design and construct HARC’s new home is noteworthy and significant.
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Coastal Impacts Technology Program: Tools for Improving Environmental Practices in Oil and Gas Development
In a four-year, $4 million effort, The Coastal Impacts Technology Program (CITP), a research initiative of the HARC Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program (EFD) engaged a diverse group of stakeholders in research to benefit the Texas Coastal Zone. The program focused on addressing environmental aspects of oil and gas operations, including site restoration, air emissions, water resources, and workforce development.
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EFD Team Charts Course for the Future
Since 2005 the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) program, managed by HARC, has been providing unbiased science to address the environmental footprint of all oil and gas activities. Recently the EFD Team held their annual sponsors/advisors meeting to reflect on the past and set the course for the future.
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Measuring Implementation of Environmentally Sound Practices in the Trans-Pecos Region
For the past dozen years, the EFD program, managed by HARC, has been working with industry, academia, government, environmental organizations and other stakeholders to provide unbiased science to address environmental and societal issues associated with oil and gas activities. As these activities continue to expand across the Permian Basin and the Trans-Pecos Region in particular, HARC-EFD could assist in measuring the implementation of cost-effective, environmentally sound practices, practices that address concerns about land use, water and air. Additionally, HARC-EFD can assist in proactive and/or pre-development activities that aim to minimize and mitigate impacts. HARC-EFD has assisted operators in reviewing their Health, Safety and Environment Management systems to ensure cost-effective, most-applicable-practices have been incorporated.
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Watershed Protection Planning: Bacteria
Watershed protection plans are guidance documents developed by watershed stakeholders detailing voluntary management measures that restore and protect water quality. One of the projects highlighted was the Double Bayou Watershed Protection Plan, an effort in which HARC coordinated with local stakeholders to develop a watershed protection plan for the Double Bayou Watershed in Liberty and Chambers counties, on the Eastern shore of Galveston Bay.
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Reducing Vulnerability of Electric Power Grid to Extreme Weather Events
The primary story line for Hurricane Harvey is the amount of rain that it dropped on southeast Texas. Some estimates have the total amount at about 27 trillion gallons of water, approximately 86,000 Astrodomes. Much of the region saw significant flooding and recovery will take some time. Fortunately, Hurricane Harvey did not cause significant, long-term power outages. There were a large number, estimates range up to 800,000 customers, but my no means the power outages that were seen during Hurricane Ike, where 2.1 million customers in CenterPoint’s territory alone lost power. Many of these customers were without power for several weeks. Hurricane Irma looks to put millions of utility of customers in the dark, as well.
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Sustainability of Engineered Rivers in Arid Lands
The Sustainability of Engineered Rivers in Arid Lands (SERIDAS) project examines the future of ten engineered rivers in arid lands. It identifies challenges the rivers face and offers recommendations on how to respond. The project team asks: How sustainable are engineered rivers in arid lands? To find answers, the SERIDAS team of natural and social scientists studies current and future river conditions in these river basins worldwide—Nile, Euphrates-Tigris, Yellow, Murray-Darling, São Francisco, Limarí, Colorado, Rio Grande, and Júcar.
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Featured Projects
The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area
The redesigned digital field guide features 103 invasive plant, animal and insect species that are either present or are of concern for the Galveston Bay area. Each species profile includes details about identification, habitat, impact, geographic distribution and management strategies. Color photos, an updated search page, prohibited species lists and reporting information, and a mapping application make the website a valuable tool for aquarium hobbyists, homeowners, gardening enthusiasts, anglers, businesses, teachers and students.
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Summarizing Hurricane Harvey’s Environmental Impacts in the Houston-Galveston Region
Hurricane Harvey brought record rainfall to the Houston-Galveston region and the Texas coast. After making landfall near Rockport, Texas as a Category 4 storm on August 25, 2017 and lingering for more than four days, Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston, leaving behind a devastated region. The impacts of the storm were far-reaching, including loss of lives, homes and livelihoods.
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Galveston Bay Report Card
HARC and the Galveston Bay Foundation are pleased to provide citizens with the third 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card, released August 9. The Report Card features critical information on the health of Galveston Bay, one of the most important and productive bays in the country.
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DOE Southwest Combined Heat and Power TAP: Cost Savings and Resilience through Improved Efficiency
The HARC Clean Energy program leads the Southwest Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership (SW CHP TAP), sponsored by the US Department of Energy as part of a nationwide CHP TAPS program. CHP is an advanced and highly- efficient approach to generating electric power and useful thermal energy from a single fuel right at the point of use. Every CHP application involves recovering otherwise-wasted thermal energy and putting it to use for heating, cooling, process thermal energy, or electricity. CHP both reduces operating costs and improves the power resilience of a facility.
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Developing a Real-Time Engine Emissions Monitoring System for Oil & Gas Operations
For many years governments around the globe have worked to regulate pollution generated through engine emissions, resulting in the need for better emissions testing worldwide. Exhaust emissions testing identifies the substances that form in an engine during combustion. Advances in emissions testing and air quality monitoring are helping to reduce emissions and mitigate effects on air quality, climate, and health. HARC has developed unique capabilities to perform advanced testing in the field for oil and gas operations seeking to understand and reduce engine emissions.
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The Stormwater Connection from Rain to Recreation
The stormwater connection from rain to recreation is an interactive web application designed to describe how a variety of land uses interact with stormwater (rain water plus surface water runoff) in and near the Clear Creek and Armand Bayou watersheds. Each stormwater pathway represents unique opportunities for the instillation of stormwater management practices.
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HARC’s New Home: A Vision of Sustainability Realized
As a result of beginning with the end in mind, HARC's headquarters is on track to achieving a Platinum Level Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification - making it the first LEED Platinum green building in The Woodlands, Texas. Platinum is the most environmentally stringent LEED certification issued by the U.S Green Building Council.
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Announcements & Events
HARC Sponsors Post-Harvey Forum on Storm Analysis
The American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Houston Branch hosted a sold-out event December 12th entitled “Rainfall, Drainage, and Flood Damage Reduction in a Post-Harvey World”. HARC was a sponsor of this important event, attended by HARC Research Scientist and EWRI member Carolyn LaFleur, P.E., as well as engineers from across the Houston region.
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Andra Wilcox to present on Water Challenge Pilot at Groundwater Protection Council UIC Conference February 12
Andra Wilcox, Research Scientist, Energy Production, will be presenting “The Water Challenge Program Pilot: Helping Companies Advance Water Management Strategies” at the Groundwater Protection Council UIC Conference on February 12, 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Rich Haut appointed to Texas Railroad Commission committee
HARC's Dr. Rich Haut, Energy Production Director, has been requested by Commissioner Christian of the Texas Railroad Commission to lead one of his committees to ensure that the oil and gas industry continues to have the human resources into the future to find innovative solutions to develop energy reserves in an environmentally sound manner.
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View this and prior newsletters in our archive
8801 Gosling Road, TX 77381, USA
HARC is a research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. We are focused on building a sustainable future that helps people thrive and nature flourish.

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