August 2011 Online Update

Research for People and the Planet  

In This Issue
- Safe Return Project
- Indonesian Water Utilities Sign MOUs
- Community Learning Session in Malang
- Q&A with Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith
- CEO Water Mandate Training Workshops with Apparel Brands
- Notes from the Field
- Climate Change Impacts and Strategies for Oakland, Calif.
- Transportation and Land Use Strategy for Public Health
- Climate Change and Transboundary Water
- Upcoming Events
- In Brief and In the News

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Peter Gleick’s Blogs

 When Climate Changes Come and Water Policies Fail. Pray for Rain?

Fox’s Latest Assault on Climate Science: Attack SpongeBob 



 It’s Hotter Than It Used to Be; It’s Not as Hot as It’s Going to Be


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Safe Return Project Releases Recommendations to Aid Successful Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Residents


The Safe Return Project is a participatory research and action initiative led by a group of formerly incarcerated Richmond, Calif. residents carrying out research, community organizing, and policy advocacy to improve reintegration after incarceration. In partnership with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety, the Pacific Institute has led trainings and planning meetings since last fall for Community Researchers, ten of whom have planned and carried out primary research in an effort to improve service provision and employment opportunities in the Richmond community.   

Safe Return Project Video

Community Researchers from the Safe Return Project discuss the project, their goals, and recommendations.


“What the community researchers have produced is research that is scientifically rigorous and benefits from insights only those who have direct experience with the issues can offer. This is a powerful testament to the positive contributions people returning from incarceration can make to their communities,” said Eli Moore, co-director of the Pacific Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program.  


On July 23, the Safe Return research findings and recommendations, Speaking Truth on Coming Home, were presented to community leaders at an open meeting in Richmond. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, City Manager Bill Lindsay, and Housing Authority Director Tim Jones all signed on to the team’s recommendations. Richmond officials are paying attention, in part, because they are bracing for a sharp increase of newly released prisoners. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ordered the state to reduce prison crowding by 33,000 inmates over the next two years and is shifting responsibility for other recently released individuals to the jurisdiction of the counties.  


“The research confirms an enormous lack of resources and support for those recently released from prison,” said Tamisha Walker. “Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed are unemployed, and 70% do not have a stable place to live. People are being sent back home where there are no services available for them. We want to build a supportive group for returning citizens to help realize goals and work with each other and help each other.”  


The team is asking Richmond for public housing for people coming home and for a one-stop community-building service that will refer former prisoners to job training, health care, and other social services. Improving the health, economic opportunities, and wellbeing of Richmond communities depends on discontinuing the revolving door between communities and the criminal justice system – and the Safe Return Project does just that, advancing community health and safety by building the capacity of formerly incarcerated residents coming home.


Read more about the Safe Return Project.


Read Speaking Truth on Coming Home.

Pacific Institute and Partners Sign Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian Water Utilities


Meena Palaniappan, director of the Pacific Institute’s International Water and Communities Initiative, signs the MOU with PATTIRO Executive Director Ilham Cendekia Srimarga (center), with PDAM Managing Director H. Hamka Hamzah, SE.MM looking on (right).  

“The time for hiding is over; we are ready to be open and transparent to improve public services for everyone,” said the first assistant to the Mayor of Makassar, H. Ruslan Abu, during the July 5 public event where the Pacific Institute and our partners, PATTIRO and Nexleaf Analytics, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Makassar City Water Utility, PDAM Kota Makassar, on our Indonesia WATER SMS Project. On July 22, Pacific Institute and our partners also signed an MOU with the Malang City Water Utility, PDAM Kota Malang. The goal of the WATER SMS Project is to improve water services for the urban poor using crowd-sourced map data from reports that people send using cell phones and email. The data generated through the WATER SMS system will be visible by the water utility as well as residents, NGOs, and other service providers who can use the map data to identify key information such as where water services are needed, where poor water quality or pressure exists, or the prices paid for water. This information can then be used by the water utility in planning infrastructure expansion and responding to complaints, and by residents and NGOs to advocate for improvements.


The Pacific Institute, PATTIRO (Indonesian governance NGO), and Nexleaf Analytics (a technical NGO) signed MOUs with water utilities in Makassar, the largest city in Eastern Indonesia on the island of Sulawesi, and Malang, a city on the island of Java. At the MOU signing in Malang, Managing Director of PDAM Kota Malang stated, “This system will help us understand and respond to complaints from our customers.” In the next few months, the Pacific Institute and PATTIRO will be conducting learning sessions with communities and focus group discussions with the water utility and other water managers, and will bring all water sector participants together in a multi-stakeholder dialogue. Through these engagement sessions, we will help define what information water managers and residents need to better manage water supply, and design an alpha WATER SMS system in early 2012 to meet those needs. The WATER SMS system will then be pilot tested in Malang and Makassar in late 2012.


Read more about our WATER SMS Project.

Community Learning Sessions in Malang

At the beginning of one of the Pacific Institute WATER SMS Project learning sessions in Malang, Indonesia, resident Pak Suep said, “We feel that we are small people. We don’t have any right to complain.” By the end of a learning session in the Klojen district of Malang, Ibu Lis, energized by the activity and passion of her fellow participants, stated, “This is an amazing group — I think everyone in here should become leaders and legislators so we can accomplish these goals!”  


Participants in a learning session in Klojen, Indonesia.

On July 26 and July 28, Indonesian NGO PATTIRO, the Pacific Institute, and Nexleaf Analytics conducted three learning sessions with communities in Malang, East Java province. The goal was to understand what improvements residents wanted to see in water services, recognize what information they needed to improve their water supply, and identify organizations and agencies that could respond to these needs. The learning sessions in Malang and engagement sessions with water managers and stakeholders will help the Pacific Institute and our partners define key aspects of the Indonesia WATER SMS system, a mobile-phone-to-web-based communication and transparency system to improve water services in Indonesia.  


Information from these learning sessions will be taken to the local government and the water utility to help understand and determine what issues agencies can commit to immediately resolving, what they can incorporate into planning, and how they can provide necessary information and tools to respond to community requests. Based on this, issue areas for the WATER SMS tool can be defined.

Read the full article.  

Q&A with Dr. Juliet Christian Smith on the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply


Pacific Institute Senior Research Associate Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith is a member of the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply (CRWFS) — a consensus-based forum for thought leaders to uncover obstacles, identify solutions, and take action to enhance water security for California agriculture, the public, and the environment. CRWFS held a series of meetings beginning in summer 2010 to build a common understanding of agricultural water use, develop a unified set of principles that underlie long-term solutions, and create recommendations for decision-makers and the public on balanced solutions to tough agricultural water issues. Dr. Christian-Smith discusses CRWFS’s latest report and recommendations for California water management and conservation.


Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith

Q: The California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply (CRWFS) recommends “agricultural water stewardship” as a more useful concept to guide thinking and decision making for agricultural water use within California. What does the term “agricultural water stewardship” involve?


Juliet Christian-Smith: Water stewardship is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of on-farm practices and regional water practices. Therefore, it is more inclusive than singling out a particular practice — for instance, drip irrigation, dry farming, or using recycled water. The CRWFS suggests using the term water stewardship in order to be inclusive of the variety of techniques that can conserve water or enhance water resources in some way.


Q: How does this group make recommendations in the Agricultural Water Stewardship report that are broad and balanced, when California’s water debates are classically tense?


JCS: One of the things that is unique about this roundtable is that it brings together a diverse group of stakeholders who have all contributed to the recommendations made in the report. CRWFS members come from the Farm Bureau, Association of California Water Agencies, Nature Conservancy, US EPA, and include individual growers like Bruce Rominger, to name a few. I should point out that the individual members only speak for themselves, and not their organizations, which may have helped us find significant common ground.


Q: So then, what might agricultural water stewardship look like for water managers? For growers and farmers? For policy makers?


JCS: For water managers, it means looking at a wide variety of stewardship strategies like managing groundwater recharge, off-stream storage, recycling municipal water for agricultural use, and other measures to match water quality to its use.  


For farmers, timing is big. Irrigation scheduling can help provide the right amount of water at the right time. Farmers also benefit from soil management – building the organic content of the soil and preserving soil moisture…

Continue reading the interview with Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith here.


CEO Water Mandate Helps Convene Training Workshops with Apparel Brands and Suppliers in Vietnam and Cambodia


In their capacity as members of the CEO Water Mandate Secretariat, Pacific Institute Globalization Program Director Jason Morrison and Research Associate Peter Schulte helped convene two national training workshops focusing on improved water management in the apparel sector supply chain. These workshops — one held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on July 26 and another in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 28 — were organized in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme and with key implementing partners, Vietnam Cleaner Production Center and WWF Cambodia. They sought to bring together CEO Water Mandate-endorsing apparel brands such as H&M, Levi, Nautica, and Nike, their suppliers in Vietnam and Cambodia, government officials, civil society representatives, water managers, and others from their country in order to better understand:

  • The state of water resources and water management in their country;
  • Why their facilities should be interested in improved water management;
  • What practices they can implement in support of this goal.

The CEO Water Mandate and UNEP plan to follow these workshops by facilitating the implementation of good water management practices at key supplier facilities in Vietnam and Cambodia during this last half of 2011. 

Read more about the CEO Water Mandate here.


NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Veena Srinivasan  


Field Report from Hivre Bazar on July 1, 2011

by Veena Srinivasan

Research Associate, Pacific Institute International Water and Communities Initiative


In the first week of July, I had the pleasure of visiting Hivre Bazar, a village close to the town of Ahmednagar in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra in India.


Hivre Bazar

Litter-free streets with cement houses and wide roads in Hivre Bazar.

Hivre Bazar is considered of the biggest success stories of the participatory watershed movement in India. Twenty years ago, a 1992 household survey showed over 90% of the families in the village were below the poverty line. There was a lot of in-fighting and high rates of alcoholism among villagers. Following the death of one villager after a partisan fight, many moved out of the main village center — either to live nearer their fields or to urban areas. Drinking water was scarce and agriculture was precarious. Poor farmers depended on rain-fed agriculture; the richer farmers were bore-well dependent, often running their pumps round the clock. The village was considered unsuitable for government schemes — no government official was willing to visit the village much less waste his time trying to implement a scheme in the village.


In a short space of twenty years, Hivre Bazar has been completely transformed. Today, no family in Hivre Bazar is below the poverty line. Despite successful practice of family planning, the population of the village has increased by 50% because of reverse migration. Almost 100 families that had migrated to urban areas have returned. Hivre Bazar has been declared an “Ideal Village.” The head of the village (sarpanch) whose vision transformed it has been appointed to lead the Maharashtra state “Adarsh Gaon Yojana” (Ideal Village Scheme) to replicate its success in over 100 selected villages statewide. There is no shortage of drinking water or irrigation water.  



Read the full Hivre Bazar post here.
And check our Notes from the Field next month for more about how Hivre Bazar accomplished this transformation and handled watershed management.


Last month, Veena Srinivasan blogged about the award-winning Waghad Project — a participatory irrigation management system in India. The project represents a highly successful “bottom-up” farmer taking over of the irrigation system and the huge prosperity it has brought to the region. This month, Veena Srinivasan has expanded her research by interviewing several NGOs, farmers, and Water User Associations and Project Level Associations from the Waghad region. Read the follow-up post on the successful Waghad farmer-managed irrigation system here.      



Pacific Institute Maps Climate Change Impacts in Oakland to Generate Local Solutions for Climate Justice   

The Pacific Institute presented draft maps at a meeting with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition. The maps above show historical summertime high temperatures in the western United States.

With funding from the California Energy Commission, over the past year the Water Program and Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program at the Pacific Institute have been working with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) to assess social vulnerability to climate change impacts in Oakland, compiling data and information on climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies. On Thursday, July 28, Pacific Institute staff Catalina Garzón and Matthew Heberger met with 20 representatives from community-based organizations in Oakland to discuss draft maps that show which Oakland communities could be most affected by local climate-change impacts including extreme heat and coastal flooding. Pacific Institute intern Anna Doty presented various adaptation strategies to the group, who are interested in leveraging this work in their local climate-change planning efforts. OCAC members then discussed potential adaptation strategies that could prepare and protect vulnerable communities in Oakland from these impacts.

This meeting is part of a series of report-backs that Pacific Institute researchers have held with OCAC members at key points in the research process to share draft research methods and results so that these can inform the coalition’s efforts to advance climate justice in Oakland. Future meetings will review available information on the impacts of climate change on wildfires and air quality. A full report for Oakland will be released later this year, including documentation of the process the Pacific Institute and local groups are using, to encourage other communities to undertake this engaged research and action in the face of climate-change impacts. The Pacific Institute co-chairs the OCAC Resilience and Adaptation Subcommittee with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, which works to support community-based efforts to build resilience to climate-change impacts in Oakland.

For more information, contact Catalina Garzón at

Advancing Community Health through Regional Transportation and Land Use Planning


On June 15 Community Strategies Program Co-Director Catalina Garzón presented on potential land use conflicts between freight transport hazards and proposed residential development at a regional forum organized by the Regional Asthma Management and Prevention Program (RAMP). The forum entitled “Is Smart Growth Really Smart and for Whom?” convened more than 40 public health, transportation, land use, and affordable housing advocates to discuss how public health considerations could be integrated into regional strategies to realign transportation, land use, and housing priorities as part of the Bay Area’s implementation of state climate legislation SB 375. As a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve regional air quality, infill development may inadvertently expose more people to toxic air pollution if more housing is sited near freight transport infrastructure without accounting for the risks this poses to human health.  


The Pacific Institute Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program is working with the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative to assess the zones with the highest health risk due to toxic air contaminants as designated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that overlap with Priority Development Areas where infill development could be incentivized by regional agencies. The team is working to also identify mitigations that could reduce health risk for residents of proposed residential developments near freight-related land uses like ports, freeways, rail yards, and distribution centers. /span>


For more information, contact Catalina Garzón at

Climate Change and Transboundary Water


Global climate change will pose a wide range of challenges to freshwater resources, altering water quantity, quality, system operations, and imposing new governance complications. The peer-reviewed journal Hydrological Sciences has published the article “Climate-proofing Transboundary Water Agreements” by Pacific Institute Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley and President Peter Gleick, who examine the challenges of how to integrate information on future hydroclimatological conditions into the politically complex system of transboundary water agreements. The authors find that most treaties and international agreements lack important tools for dealing with current challenges, such as flood control and water quality, and they lack adequate mechanisms for addressing changing social, economic, or climate conditions. There are a variety of approaches that can be incorporated into existing treaties to allow for flexibility in the face of climate change, including: (1) adjustable allocation strategies and water-quality standards; (2) response strategies for extreme events; (3) amendment and review procedures; and (4) joint management institutions. The article offers examples where specific strategies have been successfully implemented in ways that both reduce the risks of political conflicts over shared waters and lessen vulnerabilities to climatic changes.    

Read the article

Read the journal.


Report from Circle of Blue  


Circle of Blue, an affiliate of the Pacific Institute, is the international network of journalists, scholars, and citizens that connects humanity to the global freshwater crisis.

Carl Ganter

Circle of Blue Director Carl Ganter

Circle of Blue Director Director J. Carl Ganter has been appointed to the Global Agenda Council on Water Security of the the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based organization best known for convening global leaders through its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland. Established four years ago, the Global Agenda Councils act as a catalyst to monitor and address key issues, providing insights and recommendations for world leaders in business, technology, and government.

“The availability and management of clean water is the most important challenge we face today for our health, economy, energy, food, and our future,” Ganter said. “The position on the Council offers a rare opportunity to work with some of the world’s most passionate, talented people who are coming together to help solve very complex problems.”

Carl Ganter is an award-winning photojournalist, reporter, and broadcaster who is widely credited with helping to shape the multimedia era. He co-founded Circle of Blue as an affiliate of the Pacific Institute 10 years ago when he first saw the need for a trusted, central source of information on the global water crisis.

Read more.

Read Water News at Circle of Blue.

Upcoming Events


Veena Srinivasan to Speak at Commonwealth Club on Water for Thirsty Cities in India

Veena Srinivasan

Put August 18 at 6:00 p.m. on your calendar! Pacific Institute Research Associate Veena Srinivasan will be speaking at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club as part of the India Now series. Her topic is “Pipe Dreams – Water for Thirsty Cities in India”; Ms. Srinivasan has been working in India on the Pacific Institute Multiple-Use Water Services project, and she brings first-hand perspective to the issues facing India’s cities. As the country’s urban population and income grow in unprecedented numbers, supplying water reliably to the community has become a growing concern. Faced with limited reservoir storage, aging piped infrastructure, and rapidly growing demand, no Indian city today has a 24/7 water supply. But India’s rapidly growing cities represent both a challenge and an opportunity: because much of the infrastructure is still being built, there is the opportunity to follow a different development path than has been followed elsewhere in the world. Come August 18 for a discussion on possible pathways to build a sustainable water supply system in India.

The Commonwealth Club is at 559 Market Street in San Francisco, 415.597.6700. For more information and to buy tickets click here.

In Brief   

Pacific Institute Enters Twitter Competition is holding a competition to take over their Twitter feed the week of September 5. The winner will tweet for @water and will have the opportunity to speak to their 400,000 followers and inform and motivate people to think and solve the world’s water issues. We need all those with Twitter accounts to vote for the Pacific Institute before August 31. You’re vote is crucial for our voice — and be sure to tell your family and friends!

To vote for the Pacific Institute, go to


Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick:

- Spoke on a panel at Singapore International Water Week on “Water in the Changing Urban Environment: the Water-Energy Nexus Challenge.”

- Met with Institute of Water Policy.

- Spoke on California agricultural water use efficiency at the July 20 hearing of the State Water Resources Control Board.

- Briefed the National Drinking Water Council on the Pacific Institute report The Human Costs of Nitrate-Contaminated Drinking Water in the San Joaquin Valley at the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco.


Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, conducted workshops on the Institute’s latest tool: the Water-Energy Simulator (WESim), for evaluating the energy and greenhouse gas implications of various water management decisions, in Clearwater, Fla.; Chino, Calif.; and Boulder, Colo.


In the News

 Top 25 Water Conservation Blogs

Peter Gleick’s blog on SF Gate was named one of the “TOP 25  WATER CONSERVATION BLOGS” by the Seametrics Blog — selected based on great water conservation content and recommendations from other bloggers!

 - Michael Cohen, senior research associate, spoke about the Municipal Deliveries of Colorado River Basin Water report with Janet Zimmerman from the Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), discussing decreases in per-capita water use in the southwest and further results from the study.Read the article here.

- Peter Gleick sat down with Cindy Paulson of Brown and Caldwell for the California Water News to talk about the water debate in California and the role of the Pacific Institute. Read it here.

Dr. Gleick also spoke with host Robert Colangelo from the Green Sense Show to discuss the state of the world’s water and what we can do about it. Listen here.


- The Safe Return Project and the open meeting presentation to community leaders in Richmond, Calif. was featured in the San Jose Mercury News. Read it here.

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