Year in Review – Momentum into Our 25th Year   January 2012

Pacific Institute Moves into 25th Anniversary Year

2012 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Pacific Institute, and we are heading into this milestone with tremendous momentum. So much was accomplished this past year! Take a look at the highlights here, and get ready for an exciting quarter-century anniversary year building on work on sustainable water resources and management, climate change, economic and environmental justice, the human right to water, and more — plus watch for significant notes from Pacific Institute history in our Online Updates throughout the year.


Assessing the Water Situation Locally and Abroad


The World’s Water 

The new volume of the most important assessment of global water challenges and solutions,
The World’s Water, Vol. 7, was released in October at a standing-room-only event at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Pacific Institute President Dr. Peter Gleick discussed peak water, population and sustainable water, climate change, and more. For more than a decade, this biennial report has provided key data and insights into freshwater issues, and volume 7 tackles topics from U.S. water policy reform to responsible water management.  

Peak Water Cited in The New York Times

Last January The New York Times chose “peak water”as one of the 33 words to enter mainstream lexicon, linking directly to the Pacific Institute. The Times wrote: Like ‘peak oil,’ a theory that humans may have used the water easiest to obtain, and that scarcity may be on the rise.”

Peak Water Concept Impacts Water Management and Planning 


Dr. Peter Gleick and International Water and Communities Initiative Director Meena Palaniappan published “Peak Water: Conceptual and Practical Limits to Freshwater Withdrawal and Use” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June. A version of their analysis was published in On the Water Front, describing peak water in the context of global and local water challenges.   



Water for Energy 


The production of electricity, from fuel extraction to generation, has growing impacts on both water availability and quality. Our 2011 report Water for Energy: Future Water Needs for Electricity in the Intermountain West evaluates future water needs for different energy futures and identifies a growing risk of conflicts between electricity production and water availability — as well as strategies to help ensure the long-term sustainable use of both resources.

Understanding California Drought

The Pacific Institute assessed the data from California’s agricultural, energy, and environmental sectors to evaluate actual consequences of the 2007-2009 drought. The report shows the agricultural community proved resilient, generating record high revenues, while energy production fell and aquatic ecosystems suffered. Shifting from crisis-driven responses to long-term mitigation strategies is critical to make California and other southwestern states more resilient to future droughts.  


Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith spoke with news media about the surprising and significant impacts of the California drought and their implications for California’s future, among them: ClimateWire in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times.  


Municipal Use of Water from the Colorado River Basin Shows Efficiency

The Pacific Institute released Municipal Deliveries of Colorado River Basin Water,documenting population and water delivery information and trends for 100 cities and agencies that deliver water from the Colorado River basin. The report is the first to document — using real numbers — how many Western cities have made substantial water-efficiency gains over the past twenty years, during a time of extraordinary population growth. We also highlight water conservation rates that are worth emulating by providers who have not yet made efficiency gains.


Michael Cohen was interviewed widely about the Colorado River report, including Colorado Public Radio and The Christian Science Monitor. 


Learning from the Water Situation in Indore, India 
The Pacific Institute, the Institute for Environmental Transition (ISET), and TARU analyzed, on-the-ground, the water situation in Indore, India to show a way forward to a more secure water future for developing country cities. The resulting report, Climate Change and Urbanisation, is an eye-opener of the many levels of water management in an urban community, and provides recommendations of policies and tools for a more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable water supply.  


Multiple Use Water Services Workshop Brings Participants from 11 Countries    

The Pacific Institute in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation hosted a workshop on Multiple Use Water Services (MUS) in October in Oakland, Calif. Thirty participants from 11 countries, representing practitioners, NGOs, government agencies, and funding organizations, gathered to assess strategies around MUS implementation. Look for a 2012 release of a Pacific Institute analysis on making the MUS approach more sustainable and robust.


Pacific Institute Works with WASH NGOs in West Africa

In West Africa in September, the Pacific Institute signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with World Vision, NewEnergy, Pronet North, Rural Aid, and Centre Regional pour L’Eau Potable et Assainissement (CREPA) in the development and dissemination of the Institute’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) Community Choices Tool. We will be field testing a version of the Community Choices Tool with our local partners to help residents make decisions to improve their water and sanitation conditions in 2012.  


Pacific Institute Signs MOUs with Indonesian Water Utilities and Conducts Learning Sessions with Communities

In Indonesia, the Pacific Institute is working in the cities of Makassar and Malang to pilot our WATER SMS system to improve water services for the urban poor using mobile-phone-to-web-based crowd-source mapping. We signed MOUs with water utilities in the two cities who have agreed to use the data generated, and conducted engagement sessions with urban poor residents, local government agencies, and NGOs to identify what information needs to be tracked through the system to improve the management of water and access to water.



Climate Change 



The impacts of climate change affect water resources and communities around the world and factor into most of our research work. Among our 2011 highlights: 



Climate Change and Transboundary Water 

Global climate change will pose challenges to freshwater resources, altering water quantity, quality, and system operations, and imposing new governance complications. The peer-reviewed journal Hydrological Sciences published the article “Climate-proofing Transboundary Water Agreements” by Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley and President Peter Gleick, who examine how to integrate information on future hydroclimatological conditions into the politically complex system of transboundary water agreements.    

The New York Times
Greenblog covered the article, discussing the potential for climate change to ignite a new round of water wars between climate-affected areas.


Mapping and Planning for Climate Change Impacts in Oakland  

The Pacific Institute has been working with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) to assess social vulnerability to climate changes in Oakland, compiling data on impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies. In July we met with 20 representatives from community-based organizations to discuss maps that show which Oakland communities could be most affected by local climate changes. A full report for Oakland will be released this spring.

Climate B.S. of the Year Awards
Peter Gleick kept climate change in the public eye with the Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards, announced on his Huffington Post and Forbes blogs and on a number of environment blogs — and the pick-up around the blogosphere is widespread! These “Bad Science” awards go to particularly egregious, notorious, or well-publicized examples of bad climate science that were produced, cited, or used over the past 12 months to try to influence or confuse the public and policymakers.

Addressing Community Health and Justice  


Reporting the Economic and Health Burden of Nitrate-contaminated Drinking Water  

The Human Costs of Nitrate-contaminated Drinking Water in the San Joaquin Valley focuses on household costs of avoiding nitrate-contaminated drinking water connected to community water systems and the costs of removing or avoiding nitrates. It also points to key policies and research needed to better understand and resolve this challenge. The report — already downloaded more than 47,000 times — brought a stark reality check to the fore as the Central Valley Water Board considers a new regulatory program for irrigated lands, the primary source of nitrate contamination. The findings and recommendations were presented to policymakers around the country, including to the U.S. EPA.


Promoting Successful Community Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Residents
Community Researchers from the Pacific Institute’s Safe Return Project won an historic policy change when the Richmond (Calif.) City Council voted to amend city hiring practices to prevent discrimination against people formerly incarcerated. The Pacific Institute led trainings for this participatory research and action initiative, and the Community Researchers, all formerly incarcerated, presented their case to the council and won a major step forward in a new protocol for the city’s employment application.


Freight Transport and Community Health 
Development Areas in the San Francisco Bay region overlap with communities with the highest health risk from toxic air contaminants, including diesel pollution from freight transport. But the Pacific Institute/Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative study — At a Crossroads in Our Region’s Health: Freight Transport and the Future of Community Health in the San Francisco Bay Area — with 48 delineated maps, shows that with wise regional planning, decision-makers have the power to develop the region’s economic capacity while protecting the health of vulnerable communities.


Environmental justice work on freight transport impacts from the Pacific Institute Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The peer-reviewed article, “Community-based Participatory Research and Policy Advocacy to Reduce Diesel Exposure in West Oakland, California,” describes the process and outcomes of our West Oakland truck study and route campaign work with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

Mapping to Protect Winnemem Wintu Sacred Sites and Trails

The Community Strategies Program worked with members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe in Northern California, facilitating a series of workshops that is part of a partnership with the tribe to build members’ capacity to use mapping technologies to document their sacred sites and trails. 

Promoting Innovation in Sustainable Water Management


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


Pacific Institute Develops WeTap: the New Water Fountain Smartphone App

Drink the water! Safe, free drinking water at your fingertips is what public water fountains are all about. The Pacific Institute collaborated with Google to release the beta version of WeTap, the free smartphone app that uses “crowd-sourced” mapping to locate drinking water fountains and improve public drinking fountain infrastructure and use. WeTap launches to the public early in 2012 on Android Market.


Transcending Old Thinking about California Agricultural Water Use

In the peer-reviewed article “Water-Use Efficiency and Productivity: Rethinking the Basin Approach,” published in Water International, Peter Gleick, Heather Cooley, and Juliet Christian-Smith provide new analysis on 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.    

Corporate Water Policy and Sustainability  


CEO Water Mandate Launches Online Platform for Corporate Water Assessment

The U.N. Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate launched a new website, developed by the Pacific Institute’s Globalization Program, to raise awareness and build capacity among companies on water issue. The Mandate also began collaborative work on the online Water Action Hub, which will help companies to engage with other business and stakeholders on water issues on a location-specific basis.

Training Workshops with Apparel Brands and Suppliers in Vietnam and Cambodia

With the UN Environment Programme, the Pacific Institute Globalization Program organized technical trainings in Vietnam and Cambodia on sharing best water management practices among suppliers of UN CEO Water Mandate apparel companies.     


Bringing it Together

As the operational arm of the CEO Water Mandate, the Pacific Institute’s Globalization Program hosted the Mandate’s seventh and eighth multi-stakeholder working conferences in Copenhagen and Stockholm. The Program also held a retreat in London, England, with 25 leading thinkers to discuss issues facing standards systems today, the vision for the future, and strategies to meet that vision. And the Alliance for Water Stewardship, of which the Pacific Institute is a founding member, formed the International Standard Development Committee, working with stakeholders from around the world toward a global water stewardship certification program.


Our Voice in 2011


A Fracking Mess

On June 26, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed by Pacific Institute Water Program Co-Directors Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley calling for more transparency in “hydraulic fracturing” or “hydrofracking” to fully assess risks, especially to the nation’s water supply.

In 2011 the Pacific Institute also kicked off a new project analyzing the key technical and policy issues related to hydraulic fracturing with a focus on the water-related consequences. This effort will identify key scientific and technical challenges through a review of newly available information and interviews with key stakeholders, with a report coming out in 2012.


Peter Gleick California Op-Eds  

Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee early in the year calling for better water storage in California — underfoot — with intentional and coordinated groundwater recharge a better alternative to big new dams. Dr. Gleick also wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee in March, discussing the need to address the huge water savings potential of the state’s biggest water user: the agriculture sector.

A Selection of 2011 Briefings and Policy Presentations   


Dr. Peter Gleick:

- briefed congressional staff and personnel from government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the vulnerability of U.S. water resources to climate change, including extreme weather events.
- testified
before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, presenting recommendations for a more effective and sustainable 21st-century national water policy.

- testified before California’s Delta Stewardship Council on water efficiency and conservation, emphasizing that water-use efficiencies should incorporate both agricultural efficiency improvements and urban improvements, with explicit targets.

- 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, joined the statewide Task Force on Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Water Use to help analyze how the Water Conservation Act of 2009 will be implemented.

Eli Moore, co-director of the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program, gave testimony to the United Nations Independent Expert on the human right to water, presenting the Institute’s research on contamination of drinking water in California.   


Jason Morrison, director of Institute’s Globalization Program, participated in a consultation with the Institute for Human Rights and Business in association with the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights on issues of access to land, water, and food within a business and human rights context.


Catalina Garzón and Eli Moore,co-directors of the Community Strategies Program, facilitated workshops at the annual Environmental Justice Encuentro in Texas, training participants in mapping techniques to engage communities working for environmental justice.


Matthew Heberger, research associate, testified on climate change and sea-level rise at a hearing of the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.


Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, senior research associate, spoke at a hearing of the California Legislature’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on “Delta Update: Reports from the Delta Water Master and Resources Agency.”

Recognition in 2011


The Pacific Institute Honored with Inaugural U.S. Water Prize

The Pacific Institute was awarded an inaugural U.S. Water Prize from the Clean Water America Alliance for its work, “consistently in the vanguard of water issues from water use efficiency to climate change, informing political debate and elevating public awareness.”


Peter Gleick Receives the Ven Te Chow Award
Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick received the 2011 Ven Te Chow Award at the International Water Resources Association’s XIVth World Water Congress in Brazil, one of the most prestigious awards of the IWRA. Dr. Gleick delivered the Ven Te Chow Award Lecture on the triennial Congress’s theme of “Adaptive Water Management: Looking to the Future.”


Top Blog  

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. And New Security Beat, the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program blog, named Dr. Gleick’s interview “Population Dynamics Key to Sustainable Water Solutions” one of their top ten most popular stories of 2011 measured by unique page-views.


In the Right Hands

Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science of the Department of the Interior

Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science of the Department of the Interior, brought up the findings of the Pacific Institute report Municipal Deliveries of Colorado River Basin Water at the Department of the Interior Roundtable in Denver. Camille Calimlim Touton, staff of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water and Power, wrote that our research on the California drought impacts “is very thorough and very helpful.”

In Briefs


Paperback and Korean Edition of Bottled and Sold Released 

Both the Korean version and the paperback edition of Peter Gleick’s book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, were released this year. Dr. Gleick also appeared on the syndicated show The Doctors to discuss how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last 100 years — and why we are poorer for it.


Notes from the Field
In 2011, researchers from the International Water and Communities Initiative blogged from all over the world — Hivre Bazar, India; Malang, Indonesia; Bulenga, Uganda; and more — speaking with water district managers and community chiefs and in village gatherings to gain perspective from the urban poor who often lack reliable sources to clean water. This on-the-ground work and learning is chronicled in our Notes from the Field, which spearheads a new Pacific Institute blog launching in early 2012.  


Pacific Institute Launches Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program 

The Pacific Institute welcomed three interns for the inaugural year of our Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program, part of our commitment to further diverse perspectives both in our own work and in the critical fields of environmental sustainability and social justice. 

Reaching Out


In 2011, we released ten new publications, on agricultural water efficiency, water for energy, drought impacts, urbanization and water, community health, the human costs of nitrate-contaminated water, re-entry strategies for formerly incarcerated, Colorado River withdrawals, and more.


Pacific Institute websites received more than 15 million hits, with our reports downloaded more than 800,000 times – an astounding measure of the importance of our work.

Media covered the Institute and cited our work more than 1400 times, from Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times to Mother Jones, NPR’s Science Friday, Fox Business News, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, the Sacramento Bee, and the UK Guardian.


The Pacific Institute’s RSS Feed of news coverage and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube outreach launched in 2011, with the RSS now one of our most popular web pages and our social media getting the conversation cooking. Join in!

Quick Links




In this Issue

Assessing the Water Situation Locally and Abroad
Climate Change
Addressing Community Health and Justice
Promoting Innovation in Sustainable Water Management
Corporate Water Policy and Sustainability
Our Voice in 2011
A Selection of 2011 Briefings and Policy Presentations
Recognition in 2011
In Briefs
Reaching Out
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Popular Blogs in 2011


Peter Gleick - Climate Change and the Water Cycle
Peter Gleick – Climate Change and the Water Cycle


Impacts of the California Drought from 2007-2009
Impacts of the California Drought from 2007-2009



Safe Return Project
Safe Return Project
Nitrate Contamination in the San Joaquin Valley
Nitrate Contamination in the San Joaquin Valley