World Water Forum

Institute staff members Gary Wolff, Heather Cooley, and Andrea Samulon joined thousands of government officials, industry representatives, and public interest groups in Mexico City for the 4th World Water Forum. Wolff and Cooley noted that privatization continued to be a controversial issue, both among participants as well as protesters outside of the Forum (see Beyond Privatization and The New Economy of Water for the Institute’s perspective).

Shasta Dam (Photo courtesy USBR)

“I heard one speaker say ‘The problem of water is a problem of investment,’” said Wolff. “It’s true that we need investment, but we need to discuss what type of investment. We can’t put all of our money in centralized investment — that’s the hard path. Instead, we need to explore local solutions.” For more, see The Soft Path to Water (PDF) from The World’s Water series.

On World Water Day, Wolff attended the release of Agua at the Mexico City Museum of Modern Art. The Institute contributed a chapter on the soft path to water for the new America Naturál book, which will be published in English and Spanish.

Cooley reported one benefit of the Forum was that it “focused attention on Mexico’s water situation, which is dire.”

Circle of Blue was one organization raising awareness of local freshwater problems and innovative solutions. The collaboration of journalists, photographers, and filmmakers celebrated the release of Tehuacán: Divining Destiny, a publication that uses stunning photography and investigative journalism to expose the mainstream public to world water issues — in this case the those of Tehuacán Valley, southeast of Mexico City. Circle of Blue is a nonprofit affiliate of the Pacific Institute.

Involving NGOs in International Standardization

Before the governing body of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 207, Jason Morrison presented two draft papers advancing the workplan to improve NGO involvement in standards activities. The papers, delivered at a March 7 meeting in Trinidad, were prepared by the NGO Task Force that Morrison chairs. They will be revised based on input received at the meeting and submitted for circulation to TC 207 member bodies for review prior to the committee’s next plenary meeting (tentatively set for Stockholm in early October).

Jason Morrison
Jason Morrison

“Should they be approved, these two papers contain numerous practical and meaningful steps that can be implemented to improve stakeholder involvement,” said Morrison.

In other ISO news, the Institute’s International NGO Network on ISO (INNI) released its quarterly Online Update in March.

Institute Calls for Stricter Particulate Matter Rules

The Pacific Institute weighed in on the national debate over particulate matter emissions in March. Emily Lee delivered testimony before the US EPA at a hearing on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter.

Citing Institute studies of diesel and particulate matter pollution in West Oakland and West County, Lee strongly urged the EPA “to adopt much stronger standards that protect public health, especially the health of communities who are already disproportionately burdened by diesel particulate matter.” Download the testimony (PDF).

The Institute’s Integrity of Science blog also discussed the scientific concerns behind the draft rules here and here.


“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its

value is not in its taste, but in its effects.”

– J. William Fulbright, US

Senator (1905-1995)


4/5-4/6/06. Global Governance [Oakland, Calif.] Dr. Peter Gleick and Jason Morrison will each attend the Ceres Conference 2006 “Accelerating Global Governance.”Morrison will facilitate segments of a pre-conference half-day workshop on the Facility Reporting Project (FRP). During the public conference, he will serve as the moderator for the FRP session. Dr. Gleick will participate in the 4/6 Water Panel.

4/7/06. Water Reliability [Napa, Calif.] Gary Wolff will speak on “Water Reliability” at the North Bay Watershed Association’s 2006 conference “Water and Regionalism.”

4/19/06. Salton Sea [Ontario, Calif.]  Michael Cohen will participate in the CA Resources Agency’s Salton Sea habitat working group meeting, to discuss restoration project alternatives.

4/25/06. Water Efficiency [Sacramento, Calif.] Peter Gleick will testify at the California Assembly hearing on Assembly Bill 2515 (Ruskin), a bill promoting water conservation, efficiency, appliance standards, labeling, and more. Read the bill text on-line.

4/26-4/28/06. Water Resources [Central Valley, Calif.] Heather Cooley will attend the Water Education Foundation’s tour of the Central Valley.

Late April. Salton Sea [online] The Pacific Institute will release its report depicting future conditions of the Salton Sea, if a restoration project is not implemented. If you would like to receive notice of the release of the online report, e-mail publications@pacinst.org.


Data tables from The World’s Water: 2002-2003 are now available at The World’s Water.

The Integrity of Science blog now offers RSS and Atom feeds.

Plain text version of “The Human Right to Water” now available.


With World Water Day on March 22 and the World Water Forum taking place in Mexico City, several local, national, and international publications looked to the Institute for its expertise on fresh water issues.

Is Water a Human Right? (Peter Gleick guest) KQED’s Forum,
3/22/06 (RealMedia audio file)

March 22 is World Water Day Earth & Sky, 3/22/06

Wasteful Farming Leaves Little for Drinking Inter Press Service News Agency, 3/22/06

Backstory: Tapping the world Christian Science Monitor, 3/22/06

Market forces seek to control the essence of life — water San Francisco Chronicle,

Water Wars: The Mexico City World Water Forum Begins PoliticalAffairs.net,

Wenn es am elementaren mangelt ZDFheute.de magazin, 3/16/06

The 21st century’s most explosive commodity will be . . . WATER TheBusinessOnline.com, 3/5/06


Social Footprint Introduces Simple Elegance in Measuring Corporate Sustainability Performance SocialFunds.com, 3/30/06

The ‘soft path’ in dam debate Sacramento Bee, 3/23/06

Greed Runs Through It: One man’s journey to the end of the Colorado River LA Weekly, 3/15/06

Grassroots How-To: S.F. Parents Win Cleaner School Buses Connect for Kids, 3/6/06

Port of Oakland Story KPFA Evening News, 3/6/06 (port story starts at 35:20)

Shipping’s dirty cargo San Francisco Chronicle, 3/4/06


4/3/06. Climate Change [Sacramento, Calif.] Peter Gleick testified on the impacts of climate change on California, with a focus on water resources at a joint hearing of the CA Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources and the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

3/30/06. California Water [Monterey, Calif.] Peter Gleick participated in a focused discussion on future California infrastructure issues at a meeting with Next Ten and the Panetta Institute.

3/23-3/24/06. California Water [Sacramento, Calif.] Heather Cooley attended the Water Education Foundation’s Executive Briefing.

3/16-3/21/06. World Water Forum [Mexico City, Mexico] Gary Wolff, Heather Cooley, and Andrea Samulon attended the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City (see Headlines).

3/16/06. Social Responsibility [Golden, Colo.] As a leadership team member of the Ceres-led Facility Reporting Project (FRP), Jason Morrison helped
provide a day-long FRP training for the US Department of Energy’s
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL is one of
seven organizations pilot testing the FRP framework through a project
underwritten by the US EPA’s Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation.

3/14/06. Water Recycling [San Francisco, Calif.] Gary Wolff presented “Water Recycling in a Sustainable Water Supply Portfolio” at the closing luncheon of Bridging the Gap with Recycled Water, the annual conference of the California Section of the WateReuse Association.

3/11/06. Staff Honors. Peter Gleick accepted an invitation to serve on the Senior Advisory Council of the Editorial Board of a brand-new, open-access journal Environmental Research Letters. Launching in 2006, Editor-in-Chief Daniel M. Kammen describes the journal as “a new, world-class, free-to-read journal dedicated to bringing together intellectual and professional scientists, economists, engineers and social scientists, as well as the public sector and civil society who are engaged in efforts to understand the state of natural systems and, increasingly, the human footprint on the biosphere.”

3/10/06. Climate Change [San Rafael, Calif.] Peter Gleick testified at “Global Climate Change in California and Beyond: Is There a Way Out?” a town hall meeting hosted by California Assemblyman Joe Nation. “The risks to (California’s) water are real; and the state and federal agencies looking at our water problems need to do a better job of addressing them.” Download his comments (PDF).

3/9/06. Water Sustainability [Union City, Calif.] Gary Wolff spoke on “Policy Trends and Issues Concerning Sustainable Water Supply” at the 12th Annual PIBA Conference.

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