2013 Year-In-Review  

The Pacific Institute is hitting the 2014 ground running, with tremendous momentum from the research, partnerships, and moments that made 2013 an unforgettable 25th Anniversary year. We continue to be at the forefront of environmental justice and sustainable water management, and last year brought first-of-its-kind reports on the Colorado River Basin, galvanizing collective action around shared water risks, empowering local communities locally and abroad, and so much more. Take a look at our jam-packed 2013 in our Year-in-Review – and fasten your seat belts for a new year of big impacts!

Sustainable Water Management


Water-Energy Nexus 

The Pacific Institute continues to play a leading role in evaluating the links between energy and water. In 2013 we prepared a detailed analysis of the connections and lessons from the energy sectoridentifying efficiency programs that could be adapted to the water sector and identifying barriers to coordinated water and energy efficiency programs. We also evaluated ways that California utilities have been able to overcome these barriers.


New Series on California Water Rates

The Pacific Institute’s Water Rates Series covers critical issues for water service providers as they deal with growing economic uncertainty and changing water conditions, which we call the “New Normal.” Our 2013 rates studies evaluated water affordability, water financing mechanisms, and lessons from the energy sector. The series – produced in partnership with the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Community Water Center, and Fresno State University – also includes Need To Know: Water Rates” series briefs that point out information and strategies to help water managers plan water demand, design water rates for conservation pricing and affordability, and communicate with their customers for best results. 


Key Issues for Desalination in California

The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading groups studying the broad issues associated with desalination. The Key Issues for Seawater Desalination series continued in 2013 as an update to the 2006 Pacific Institute report Desalination with a Grain of Salt – an important tool used by policy makers, regulatory agencies, local communities, and environmental groups to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of seawater desalination proposals. Our latest works identify outstanding issues for seawater desalination projects in California including energy and greenhouse gas emissions, costs and financing, and marine impacts associated with seawater desalination plants. Read the desalination series here.


Colorado River Basin

Water to Supply the Land provides the first comprehensive assessment of agricultural land and water use in the Colorado River Basin of the United States. The report describes the 3.2 million acres irrigated within the basin and notes that water exported from the basin helps irrigate another 2.5 million acres in adjacent areas, consuming roughly 70 percent of the basin’s water supply. The report also includes scenarios that explore different methods to reduce the amount of water used for irrigation, which could help to bridge the water supply-demand imbalance that has driven reservoir storage down by 50 percent in the basin and that threatens future water availability. Similarly, our work Groundwater Dynamics in the Colorado River Limitrophe (in English and Spanish) explains the groundwater conditions in and adjacent to the Colorado River’s limitrophe reach – the roughly 22.5 mile stretch separating Baja California from Arizona – and analyzes the impact of groundwater pumping on Colorado River flows. The study provides critical information for the ongoing binational efforts to help restore portions of the limitrophe.

National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities

The Pacific Institute released a comprehensive study, Sustainable Water Jobs: A National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities. The report finds that investments in increasing efficient water use and re-use can provide substantial numbers of jobs in a wide range of professions. The Institute’s analysis also developed six individual case studies of organizations that provide training and employment in sustainable water jobs: Amigos de los Rios in Altadena, CA; Groundwork Portland in Portland, OR; Limitless Vistas in New Orleans, LA; Sustainable South Bronx in Bronx, NY; Verde in Portland, OR; and ¡YouthWorks! in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Building Tools for Urban Water Agencies

In the cities of Malang, East Java and Makassar, South Sulawesi, the Pacific Institute and partners Nexleaf Analytics and PATTIRO Makassar launched the first pilot installations of the pioneering WASH SMS platform to support governance of urban water and sanitation. Referred to locally as SMS AIR (Indonesian for “WATER SMS”), the system assists utility customers, poor residents without service, utilities and other water service providers, local government agencies, NGOs, and media in improving water services by providing transparent channels of communication. The system will also provide functionality for users to collect data more easily, such as seasonal surveys of dry wells, or anonymous reports of corruption, and display this information online in forms that can be used for planning, advocacy, or participatory budgeting. By the close of the year, the two systems had processed over 4,000 messages sent by consumers to formal and informal water service providers, health departments, and local NGOs.    


Here in California, Sacramento County also partnered with the Pacific Institute to release an updated River-Friendly Landscape Benefits Calculator – an online application that helps residents estimate the benefits of choosing “river-friendly” plants and practices. The update includes dozens of new features and enhancements, including a database of nearly 2,000 plants – complete with pictures and water requirements – to help people to garden and landscape in beautiful and more eco-friendly ways, especially important in this era of severe drought. Check it out at


Popular Blogs and Op-Eds in 2013  







The Future of Water featuring Peter Gleick
The Future of Water, with Peter Gleick
Heather Cooley - Global Water-Energy Choke Points
Global Water-Energy Choke Points, with Heather Cooley
AGU Chapman Conference:
AGU Chapman Conference: “Grand Challenges” at the Intersection of Water and Climate, with Peter Gleick
Chicago Ideas Week: Solutions in a World of Peak Water Limits featuring Peter Gleick
Chicago Ideas Week: Solutions in a World of Peak Water Limits, with Peter Gleick


Climate Change Adaptation


Climate Change Survivor Workbook with Games

Oakland residents can take steps to protect their communities in the face of climate change impacts. Are You a Climate Change Survivor? is the fun new activity workbook, game, and handy fact sheets from the Pacific Institute and Oakland Climate Action Coalition that provide engaging activities to raise awareness about climate change impacts like heat waves, flooding, and poor air quality – and the tools that community members can use to build safety and resilience. The workbook also includes board games like Climate Change Survivor, and is complemented by colorful Community Resilience Factsheets providing more information about how climate change will affect Oakland communities. 


Pacific Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Collaboration 

Drs. Peter Gleick and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

The Pacific Institute and Germany’s eminent Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to pursue joint research in the areas of water, climate, energy, and sustainability. Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, and Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute, signed the joint agreement in a ceremony in Potsdam, Germany in September to collaborate on studies in water and conflict; implications for food production from climate-change scenarios; water requirements for comprehensive energy systems and specific energy requirements of water systems; water-use efficiency in both agricultural and urban settings; and more.

Corporate Water Policy and Sustainability  

CEO Water Mandate Convenings with Water Stewardship Leaders Worldwide

The United Nations Global Compact, in collaboration with the Pacific Institute, convened its twelfth working conference of the CEO Water Mandate, consisting of two separate events. The first, convened during World Water Week in Stockholm, focused on the Mandate’s core projects. The second, held in New York City during the UN Global Compact’s Leaders Summit, focused on the water-related elements of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Staff also traveled all over the globe to places like Accra, Ghana and Chiang Mia, Thailand to raise awareness about the CEO Water Mandate and the water stewardship practices of leading companies. We coordinated country-specific Network sessions that served as a means to bring Mandate research and guidance to new audiences with a goal of facilitating the adoption of on-the-ground corporate water stewardship practices. Learn more about the CEO Water Mandate.


Updated Guide to Water-Related Collective Action

The CEO Water Mandate released the updated Guide to Water-Related Collective Action, which helps businesses develop strategy focused on effective, sustainable, and equitable external engagements related to water. Facilitating equitable processes through which all affected parties can come together to mitigate shared risks or pursue other improvement opportunities is a powerful tool for combating our mounting water challenges. The Guide supports companies to move toward more sustainable engagement.


CEO Water Mandate’s Water Action Hub Growth

The Water Action Hub – the world’s first online platform to advance critical water projects in specific river basins around the planet – saw much growth in 2013. Joining our effort with the CEO Water Mandate to launch the Hub in European basins was Brussels-based NGO European Water Partnership (EWP). International charity WaterAid also joined over one hundred companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders as part of the Hub. With these new additions, the Water Action Hub is now active in seven basins and features some 130 organizations working on 120 projects around the world.

Elevating the Voice and Power of Marginalized Communities

Curriculum Guide and Training-of-Trainers on Popular Education Tools for Community Health 

Participants from Bayview/Hunters Point map the treasures in their community and the places that are most impacted by trucks and trains.
The Pacific Institute and the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative hosted Training-of-Trainers on Popular Education Tools for Community Health for community organizers, outreach workers, and health educators. Diesel truck and train traffic affects the daily lives of communities near ports, rail yards, freeways, and other freight-related land uses through noise, traffic congestion, and pedestrian safety hazards. These systems also impose serious health problems like asthma, cancer, and heart disease on vulnerable populations. The Pacific Institute works with local partners to reduce these adverse impacts on community health and quality of life in low-income neighborhoods and to increase their share of the benefits from nearby freight-related land use. With our community partners we published the Gearing Up for Action curriculum guide (in English and Spanish), with activities designed to help community leaders engage groups of residents to learn more about freight transport and connect it to their own lives. 

Unlocking the Power of Photos to Engage Youth in Building Healthier Communities

The photo-voice project participants held an opening night gallery exhibit in June featuring photos taken by Native youth.

Through our partnership with Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), the Pacific Institute developed a popular-education-style training series that builds skills youth need to engage in promoting innovative solutions that address the root causes of violence in their communities. Our photo-voice project with Native American and Latino youth combined picture-taking and storytelling to identify their issues of concern, document community conditions, and generate solutions to create healthier communities. The youth presented the results of their photo-voice project to friends and family members in June.


New Progress on Community Reintegration and Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated in Richmond
The day before the Richmond City Council voted in July to expand their “Fairness in Hiring” policy, the Safe Return Project released the report 
Employment and Community Reintegration in Contra Costa County, produced in collaboration with the Pacific Institute and CCISCO. The Richmond City Council took an historic step in leveling the playing field for returning citizens by voting to expand hiring policies to include all companies doing business with the City of Richmond. The City of Richmond and 43 other cities and states across the U.S. have decided that in their hiring they will not consider applicants’ past convictions unless legally required and only after the person has found to be qualified for the position. Read more.


Recognition in 2013  


Pacific Institute Named High-Impact Nonprofit by Philanthropedia 

The Pacific Institute has been identified by industry experts as one of the top nonprofits working in the field of climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area! Philanthropedia, a division of GuideStar, the industry leader in nonprofit data, facilitates discussion about expert-recommended high-impact nonprofits. Among the reviews from experts about the Pacific Institute is: “They do far researching and insightful research on water policy for California and for the world. They translate knowledge into real world change.” Find out more at Philanthropedia.


Pacific Institute’s New Blog Lauded  

The Institute launched a new website in 2013 with several exciting features that have gotten people talking, including an enhanced Publications Search function and our new blog, Pacific Institute Insights, which features detailed conversations and critical analyses authored by Institute staff and featured guest bloggers. Less than a year out of the gate, Pacific Institute Insights was named one of the Top 50 Water Blogs of 2013 by Communications Specialist Donna Vincent Roa!

Peter Gleick and Pacific Institute Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award for World Water Day

Dr. Peter Gleick, left, with presenter Peter Drekmeier
Dr. Peter Gleick and the Pacific Institute were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards ceremony in San Jose for World Water Day 2013. Dr. Gleick and the Institute were acknowledged for our extensive research and education to influence how we use water and how we must move to a sustainable approach – a “soft path for water” that recognizes the realities of a renewable but ultimately limited resource. The Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards represents a diverse cross-section of respected parties concerned about water conservation and the need for a strategic response, both to droughts and to a new era of water scarcity. 

Safe Return Team Receives Martin Luther King Leadership 

The Safe Return Team received the annual Martin Luther King Leadership Award from the City of Richmond.


Efforts by the Safe Return Team supported by the Pacific Institute have led Contra Costa County to become a leader in progressive criminal justice reform. This achievement was recognized as the Safe Return Team received the annual Martin Luther King Leadership Award from the City of Richmond. In a City Council meeting ceremony, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin heralded Safe Return and its supporting organizations for our efforts to “invest in people not prisons” that led the county to withdraw a jail expansion proposal and invest its realignment funding into transitional employment, housing, integrated services, and bail reform.

Board Member Margaret Gordon Honored by White House
Margaret Gordon speaks on the panel of the Citizen Science Award in Washington, DC in June.
Pacific Institute board member Margaret Gordon received the prestigious White House Citizen Science Champions of Change Award for her work with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (EIP), a nonprofit that grew from a community research partnership at the Pacific Institute that works to ensure West Oakland residents have a clean environment, safe neighborhoods, and access to economic opportunity. The Champions of Change program highlights the work of individuals, businesses, and organizations whose accomplishments have positively affected our communities. Watch Margaret Gordon speak at the Citizens Science Award panel in this video. (Ms. Gordon comes in at 41:28.)


Heather Cooley a “Champion” in Women’s Adventure Magazine

Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley was featured as one of the “Champions of the Earth” in Women’s Adventure Magazine (see page 52 under “Water for All”), where she is noted for “seeking solutions that balance environmental, economic, and social justice concerns.”

Reaching Out


Left to right: Peter Gleick, Michael Pollan, Michael Krasny

The Pacific Institute launched our new Impact Fund in November with a high-powered panel featuring Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick, author and food activist Michael Pollan, and KQED Forum host Michael Krasny, who moderated a discussion between Drs. Gleick and Pollan on Water and Food in a Changing World. (Watch it here.) The Impact Fund campaign advances the Institute’s rapid-response capability to tackle urgent short-term needs, as well as provides capacity to further our efforts for the long view - not just for the next year but for the next generation, with a target to raise $3-5 million by 2015. Our goal is to expand our ability to tackle the critical challenges of our time: sustainably managing the world’s water supply, planning for climate change, ensuring communities have a voice in decision-making, eliminating environmental inequities, and supporting a thriving economy and environment. Support the Impact Fund here. 


Publications, Downloads, Media, and Presentations Make Huge Impact

In 2013, the Pacific Institute released 20 new publications on California water rates, desalination, climate change adaptation, irrigated agriculture in the Colorado River Basin, sustainable water jobs, water-related collective action, and more. These 2013 releases have already been downloaded more than 130,000 times, and were covered by major media both here and abroad. This year our websites ( and received more than 10,000 unique visitors per month, with our research downloaded nearly 1 million times.


Media covered the Pacific Institute and cited our work nearly 600 times, including outlets like The Economist, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, Sacramento Bee, UK Guardian, and many more.

Pacific Institute research staff presented or led workshops at more than 100 venues both at home and around the world in 2013, from universities, water manager gatherings, and local communities from Austin, Texas to Beijing, China, to international meetings from India to Stockholm.


Researchers’ Service 

Pacific Institute research staff serve on a number of influential committees and commissions, another way we help bring the research we do to bear to make change happen:

-Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick served on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the California Council on Science and Technology project on enhanced fossil fuel production.
-Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley served on the Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional (CII) Task Force, charged with developing a report to the Legislature that outlined alternative best management practices for Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional water users and assessed the potential statewide water-use efficiency improvements. Ms. Cooley also served on several urban water committees including the Urban Stakeholder Committee and several committees on the California Urban Water Conservation Council.
-Corporate Sustainability Program Director Jason Morrison served on the Carbon Disclosure Project Water Advisory Council and on the Board of the Alliance for Water Stewardship.
-Community Strategies Program Director Catalina Garzón served on the Advisory Committee of the Bay Area Housing and Community Multiple Hazards Risk Assessment, the Association of Bay Area Governments Community Indicators Working Group, the Association of Bay Area Governments Resilience and Adaptation Committee and Steering Committee, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition Freight Transport Committee and Sustainability Committee, and the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative.

Pacific Institute’s 2013 Diversity for Sustainability Interns   
The Pacific Institute welcomed summer’s Diversity for Sustainability Interns Mar Velez and Christina McGhee. In its third year, the Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program provides opportunities for individuals from communities that are under-represented in the environmental sustainability field to build skills, experience, and professional networks to enrich the field through their unique perspectives and lived experiences. Ms. Velez worked on our photo-voice projects with Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice and the Intertribal Friendship House. Oakland native Christina McGhee worked on a project to engage communities directly impacted by climate change in developing neighborhood-level indicators to measure community resilience.

Quick Links   

Follow us on Twitter    Like us on Facebook