December 2011 Online Update

Research for People and the Planet  

In This Issue
- Reports on Urban Environments
- New Farm Water Success Stories
- CEO Water Mandate Platform Launches
- New Approach to Water and Agriculture
- Peter Gleick Congressional Testimony
- High-Level Meeting in Burkina Faso
- WASH Tool Presented in Uganda
- Notes from the Field
- Learning Session in Makassar
- Safe Return Project Aids Policy Change
- In Brief, Upcoming Events, and In the News


 Zombie Water Projects

The Rise and Fall of Climate Change Denial

Transcending Old Thinking about California Agricultural Water Use





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Two New Reports Address Community Health and Justice in Urban Environments


Freight Transport and the Future of Community Health in the San Francisco Bay Area


AWS BAnner Right now Bay Area planners are deciding where to put new housing, schools, and parks in areas prioritized for regional development — and they have the opportunity to put them far enough away from toxic air pollution to protect community health. The new study from the Pacific Institute and the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative found that 74% of the land in Priority Development Areas that intersect with Air Quality CARE communities is far enough away from freight transport hazards to be suitable for sensitive land uses like new housing. With wise regional planning, decision-makers have the power to develop the region’s economic capacity while protecting the health of vulnerable communities. At a Crossroads in Our Region’s Health: Freight Transport and the Future of Community Health in the San Francisco Bay Area maps the Priority Development Areas, with 45 detailed local maps of five Bay Area counties.

View the maps and read our report with recommendations for smart growth in the Bay Area here.



New Strategies for Water Security in Developing Country Cities

 AWS BAnnerThousands of cities in the developing world face rising pressures on water provision due to population growth and urbanization — and climate change worsens these impacts. Coordinating the formal and informal water sectors, improving water storage and management, and bringing community voices into water planning are critical to sustainably providing water, especially for the urban poor who are most vulnerable to water scarcity. The new report, Climate Change and Urbanisation: Building Resilience in the Urban Water Sector – a Case Study of Indore, India, from the Pacific Institute, the Institute for Environmental Transition (ISET), and TARU Leading Edge, provides detailed analysis of the water situation in Indore, India and shows a way forward to a more secure water future for developing country cities.

Read the full report or Executive Summary

New Farm Water Success Stories and Videos Highlight Practices by Innovative Water Managers   

The Pacific Institute has released five new case studies and four new interviews, adding to our California Farm Water Success Stories series, which document how agricultural water stewardship practices are at work on-the-ground, at the farm and irrigation district level. In addition, ten short video interviews offer first-person insights from these innovative water managers. The Institute and other members of the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply have also launched an Interactive Database and Map which contains more than 30 case studies, including the Pacific Institute’s success stories, and it is searchable by location, production type, irrigation method, and stewardship practice.

“Farmers, irrigation districts, and local organizations are finding innovative ways to protect water quantity and quality, saving energy and saving money, augmenting stream flows, and storing water for inevitable drought periods,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, lead author of the report. “To claim it can’t be done, or that there isn’t more we can do, just doesn’t make sense. These case studies show how, and are a great practical resource.”

Click to read more and download the farm water success stories.

Click on the videos below to watch new, short interviews with water district managers, farmers, and the California Secretary of Agriculture.

Karen Ross – California Secretary of Agriculture
John Stephens – Oakdale Ranch
Chris Kapheim – Alta Irrigation District
Dan Balbas – Rieter Farms Grower
David Orth – Kings River Conservation District

CEO Water Mandate Launches Platform for Corporate Water Assessment on Revamped Website

Click to visit the new CEO Water Mandate website.

The CEO Water Mandate — an initiative of the UN Global Compact that seeks to advance more sustainable corporate water management — launched its revamped website at Developed by the Pacific Institute’s Globalization Program in its capacity as operational arm of the CEO Water Mandate, this new site is designed to make a clear business case for corporate action on water and provides access to an array of resources relevant to companies seeking to better understand how they can improve their water performance and reduce water-related business risks. It also serves as a robust source of information to help companies and their stakeholders learn more about corporate water stewardship and the Mandate’s position within that emerging space.     


The site also features a new capacity-building platform developed in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that explains the different ways companies can use water assessment practices to better understand their water performance and related risks and impacts. The platform describes and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of specific corporate water assessment tools, and serves as a jump-off point for companies seeking to learn more about them. This platform draws from the 2010 CEO Water Mandate-UNEP report Corporate Water Accounting: An Analysis of Methods and Tools for Measuring Water Use and Its Impacts and from engagement with corporate water assessment experts and tool developers.


To visit the revamped CEO Water Mandate website, go to:

To see the new platform for corporate water assessment, go to:   

Peer-Reviewed Article Offers New Approaches to Transcend Old Thinking about California Agricultural Water Use


AWS BAnner The Pacific Institute provides thoughtful new analysis to help move beyond the theoretical quagmire that has characterized the debate over water-use efficiency for decades. Water-Use Efficiency and Productivity: Rethinking the Basin Approach,” the peer-reviewed article by Peter Gleick, Juliet Christian-Smith, and Heather Cooley, is published in the journal Water International. The authors analyze how water-use goals have changed over the last decade, and therefore why our metrics and approach to understanding the potential for increased efficiency and productivity should also change.

journal article points out three fundamental flaws inherent in the narrow basin approach:
  1. underestimating the potential for better technology and management to reduce unproductive or non-beneficial evaporation or other consumptive losses of water;
  2. ignoring the potential to improve water-use “productivity” because it only values “new” water;
  3. failing to account for the many highly significant “co-benefits” of efficiency actions.

Read the full article here.


Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick wrote about Water-Use and Efficiency and Productivity in his San Francisco Chronicle‘s SF Gate “City Brights” blog. Read it here.


Peter Gleick Testifies to Congress with Recommendations for Fundamental Changes in National Water Policy


On December 8, Pacific Institute President Dr. Peter Gleick presented a set of recommendations to Congress for a more effective and sustainable 21st-century national water policy. Dr. Gleick testified before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that coordinated federal planning for water is needed in the face of new water challenges such as climate change, unregulated or inadequately regulated pollutants, and decaying physical water infrastructure. 

Dr. Gleick presented nine targeted recommendations for fundamental change in federal water policy:
  1. Federal water-related agencies and programs are fragmented and require better coordination.
  2. The nation lacks, and must develop, an adequate understanding of water supply, use, and flows.
  3. More appropriate economic strategies can create more sustainable water-use patterns.
  4. Water policies and infrastructure should be designed to evolve with changing climatic conditions; the federal government should develop a national strategy for climate change adaptation to unavoidable climate impacts.
  5. Existing Federal water laws should be updated and adequately enforced: in particular, Congress must modernize the antiquated Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.
  6. Twenty-first century water management must encompass decentralized solutions such as water demand management, stormwater capture, recycled water, greywater, and other nontraditional approaches.
  7. Federal water policies must be integrated with other policies, including energy, agriculture, and climate change.
  8. Environmental justice principles must be integrated into federal water policy, using benchmarks of measurable progress toward eliminating disproportionate impacts in low-income communities and communities of color.
  9. The federal government should lead by example, establishing new rules and targets for its own water use and operations. For example, all federally managed buildings should meet or exceed WaterSense standards for fixtures and appliances.

Read the full testimony here.

Look for the Pacific Institute’s new book, A Twenty-first Century U.S. Water Policy, coming out in April from Oxford University Press! 



Pacific Institute Participates in High-Level Meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  


On December 5-8, a key player and visionary in Africa on sanitation, water, and hygiene issues, CREPA, held a high-level meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with 400 participants from research institutions, funding agencies, government, and its development partners across the world. Dr. John Akudago from our International Water and Communities Initiative represented the Pacific Institute. During the four-day workshop, participants brainstormed on possible ways to make sanitation a business to improve access and seek for innovative ways to source or generate funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Africa.


Researches from six African countries — Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, and Mozambique — provided a benchmark and revealed that sanitation has the potential to create employment for many people. Consultative tariff-fixing procedures and possible waste treatment options were also discussed. In regard to financing WASH in Africa, there were ideas on taxing the urban water users in order to raise funds to improve access to the rural poor. There were also suggestions that Africa should generate funds for WASH from its natural resources.


At the end of the sessions, five new countries were co-opted into CREPA: Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Madagascar, making a total of 22 countries. To make CREPA reflect its pan-African role, its name has been changed to Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA).

Read more about our work in the water, sanitation, and hygiene
(WASH) sector.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Choices Tool is Presented at Rural Water Supply Network in Uganda

During a conference on rural water supply in Kampala, Uganda, the Pacific Institute’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Choices tool was presented as one of the papers accepted for oral presentation for a session on promising ways of dealing with the emerging challenges of WASH. The presentation offered an opportunity for others to assess the tool and contribute suggestions to improving it. Useful feedback included noting that the tool has potential to increase knowledge-sharing and could be utilized for community use using punch and color matching. The conference participants also emphasized how rural water supply could be made sustainable, for which choice of technology was among the key steps. Audio recordings of some of the comments on the WASH Choices Tool will be available in the near future on the WASH Choices website (

Notes from the Field


Sustainability of Supply: The Story of Community Water Associations (HIPPAMs) in Malang by Meena Palaniappan   


AWS BAnner
New HIPPAM leader

advocated through local budgeting process to drill
a bore well in the community to supply water to the hundreds of households without access.

Imagine if the water you were being supplied with regularly to your home suddenly began drying up? For hundreds of households dependent on community-run drinking water user associations (Indonesian HIPPAM) in Malang, this is a new reality. As more and more water users directly access the resource, water availability is shifting, and the lack of a comprehensive water management strategy for the region has left many communities high and dry.

HIPPAMs are common throughout Malang, and supply about 20 percent of households in the city. These HIPPAMs began in response to the lack of municipally supplied water by the city’s water utility, PDAM Kota Malang. The water utility was not supplying water to these communities either because it was an outlying or difficult to reach area, or because the cost of water from PDAM Kota Malang was perceived to be too high.



Multiple Uses of Water by Meena Palaniappan  




AWS BAnner
The local reisidents in Malang use the rivers to fulfill human needs to drink, grow food, take away waste, and do laundry.


The Amprong River in the city of Malang in Indonesia provides a truly rich example of the power and the challenges of multiple use water systems. From the beginning of human civilization, rivers and water bodies were always used to fulfill human needs to drink, to grow food, and to take away waste. As cities grew, the rivers that were once fulfilling all of these needs were becoming running sewers, and communities downstream of cities were suffering the impacts of agricultural runoff, reduced water availability, and poor water quality. The question has always been: how can we ensure that water can continue to fulfill the multiple needs it serves in society for livelihoods and for water and sanitation, while also ensuring it is available for downstream users, its quality is maintained, and that the needs of the environment and future generations are considered?


Learning Sessions Held in Makassar, Indonesia to Develop Design Needs for the Indonesia WATER SMS Tool


AWS BAnner
The Makassar team developed key WATER SMS system design decisions, including developing a power map and identifying issues to be tracked in WATER SMS.

International Water and Communities Initiative Director Meena Palaniappan attended Learning Sessions in Makassar, South Sulawesi conducted by the staff of PATTIRO, our Indonesian NGO partner in the Indonesia WATER SMS Pilot. The Indonesia WATER SMS system in Malang, East Java, and Makassar, South Sulawesi, a pilot of the WASH SMS Project, will improve water services by allowing the urban poor to report water conditions and problems using their mobile phones and to crowd-source map this information on the web. This second set of learning sessions was focused on identifying key technical elements of the WATER SMS system, including the structure of mobile phone interaction with the WATER SMS server and how much people were willing to pay for exchanging information with the system, and also sharing information with residents about the results of focus group discussions with other stakeholders including the water utility, the informal water sector, and local government. In addition, the PATTIRO team and Ms. Palaniappan met with the Managing Director of PDAM Makassar (the city of Makassar’s water utility) to discuss the water utility’s priority concerns and their ability to meet the needs of communities in Makassar which are struggling with poor water supply. Ms. Palaniappan then worked with the Makassar team in developing key WATER SMS system design decisions, including developing a power map and identifying key issues to be tracked in WATER SMS.


Read more on our WASH SMS Project.

Safe Return Project Influences Historic Policy Change in Hiring Practices in Richmond, California 


On November 22, the Community Researchers involved in the Pacific Institute’s Safe Return Project presented to the Richmond City Council before the council voted to change city hiring practices to prevent discrimination against people formerly incarcerated. The historic policy change was a recommendation generated by the Safe Return Project, a participatory research process focused on challenges faced by Richmond residents returning from incarceration. The resolution passed by the council removed the question about past convictions from the city’s employment application, and directed the Director of Human Resources to work with the Safe Return Project to develop a new protocol.

The Safe Return Project, a partnership of the Pacific Institute with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety, ensures that critical information and voices from the people with direct experience of what it takes to successfully reintegrate will inform policies and programs supporting the Richmond community.


Safe Return research findings and recommendations are in the report Speaking Truth on Coming Home

In Brief 

CEO Water Mandate Announces Water Action Hub

As part of the German government Water-Food-Energy Nexus Conference in Bonn, Germany on November 16-18, the UN CEO Water Mandate co-convened a very successful “hot topic session” in collaboration with the Alliance for Water Stewardship and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. The session focused on the relationship between emerging good corporate water management practice and energy and food security. Specifically, it explored the ways in which companies are using water stewardship approaches as a means to engage with the public sector and others on water issues; the potential and limits of this approach to address the nexus; and how water stewardship can be linked to other approaches to maximize its impact potential. The highlight for the CEO Water Mandate in Bonn was being selected by the conference organizers to announce the Mandate’s Water Action Hub at the Moving to Action plenary on the afternoon of the 17th.

Pacific Institute staff members gave talks and lectures, conducted workshops, and participated on panels far and wide this month. Here are some of the places we’ve been:   

Michael Cohen, Water Program Senior Research Associate:

- attended the Assembly Budget 3 Subcommittee’s oversight hearing on
Salton Sea activities, where state agencies reported that they had spent more than $40 million dollars on Salton Sea activities since 2003, but were unable to provide a clear accounting of this spending, or demonstrate any projects actually constructed at the Salton Sea with these tens of millions of dollars.
- attended the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

Catalina Garzón, Co-Director of the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program:
co-facilitated a session with Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative members on building alliances between environmental and labor groups at the Equity Summit, a national gathering in Detroit, Mich. sponsored by PolicyLink.
co-facilitated a panel session on Transportation Justice, Planning, and Jobs at a convening of the Federal Inter-agency Environmental Justice Working Group in Richmond, Calif. Potential policy solutions and changes that could advance transportation justice, community health, and local economic development within federal agency programs and initiatives related to environmental justice were discussed.
- presented at the Bay Area Equity and Resilience Convening on the Pacific Institute’s research with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition to document local climate change impacts and adaptation options for vulnerable communities.
- participated in a statewide Freight Transport/Goods Movement Convening in Sacramento, Calif. to identify opportunities for collaboration on local-, regional-, and state-level freight transportation and air quality issues.

Dr. Peter Gleick, President: 
- presented on water security and peak water before General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Force at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi.
- presented
Regional Water System Vulnerabilities and Strengths for Unavoidable Climate Adaptation and Moving to a Soft Path for Water: Integrated Research and Management Needs at the American Geophysical Union 2011 Fall Meeting.

- attended a screening of the new documentary on water, in which he is one of the featured experts, Last Call at the Oasis in Chicago, Ill.
- spoke at the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment’s annual research showcase on water quality and bottled water consumption.
- gave the keynote address at the Atlantic Council and presented on Exploring the Water and Energy Nexus.
- attended a
meeting by the Gulbenkian Think Thank on Water and the Future of Humankind in Lisbon, Portugal.

Misha T. Hutchings, International Water and Communities Initiative Research Associate:

- presented on how the WASH SMS Project is facilitating knowledge sharing, information transparency, and community-based advocacy for urban water and sanitation services through mobile phone technology at the HELP International Symposium hosted by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme and the Panama Canal Authority in Panama City, Panama.

Jason Morrison, Globalization Program Director:

- moderated the Trade Standards Practitioners Network’s annual conference, entitled Standards in South-South Trade and Opportunities for Advancing the Sustainability Agenda at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.


Upcoming Events 

Senior Research Associate Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith will be moderating a panel entitled Reduce, Reuse & Recycle: Local Solutions to Address California’s Water Woes at the Planning and Conservation League’s Symposium on January 28, 2012 at the Sacramento Convention Center located at 1400 J Street, Sacramento, Calif.

To register and for more information, click here.

In the News


- Institute President Dr. Peter Gleick spoke with Tasha Eichenseher from National Geographic about the new The World’s Water Vol. 7 — specifically on basic water and sanitation needs and the Millennium Develop Goals for water. Read the full article here.


- International Water and Communities Initiative Director Meena Palaniappan spoke to Sunita Sohrabji from India West on our new report with recommendations for water management in developing country cities like Indore, India. Read the full article here.   


- Julia Pyper from ClimateWire also interviewed Ms. Palaniappan on the new Pacific Institute analysis, Climate Change and Urbanisation: Building Resilience in the Urban Water Sector – a Case Study of Indore, India. Read about the report and our recommendations on urban water management in developing countries in the full article here.


- Water Program Senior Research Associate Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith spoke with the Central Valley Business Times on the new California Farm Water Success Stories released this month. Read the full article here


- Western Farm Press covered Peter Gleick‘s testimony to Congress on needs for fundamental changes in U.S. water policy. Read the full article here.

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