2012 Year in Review
Celebrating 25 Years 

A quarter century ago we released our first publication, “Climate Change and International Politics,” and since then we have helped change the national debate over issues as diverse as how to understand and respond to the threats from climate change, a new vision for 21st century water policy, and environmental justice. Today the Institute has more than 150 reports, books, and articles available for download free on our website, a dozen technical tools and resources, and 25 testimonies before state and national bodies. The challenges continue, and so does our work in 2013!

Sustainable Water Management

A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy

21st_us_water_policy_cover_small.jpg Pacific Institute researchers released A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy, a new book that presents clear and readable analysis and recommendations for a new federal water policy to confront our national and global challenges. William K. Reilly, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, calls the new book“a blueprint for reform. Those who care about the country’s water resource policy in all its manifestations would do well to take the themes to heart.”

Separating Frack from Fiction

fracking_cover_small.jpg Downloaded more than 100,000 times since its June release, the report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction finds the real issues around the impacts of fracking are shared by stakeholders from government to industry to environmental groups – and point to the need for better and more transparent information in order to clearly assess the key water-related risks and develop sound policies to minimize them.


Analyzing Key Issues for Desalination in California

desal_financing_cover_small.jpg The Institute’s new research project on seawater desalination included conducting one-on-one interviews with industry experts, water agencies, community and environmental groups, and regulatory agencies to identify and update key outstanding issues in seawater desalination in California. In 2012, we released the first two research reports of this new series: Proposed Desalination Facilities and Desalination Cost and Financing, which map the 17 seawater desalination plants currently proposed for development along the California coast and analyze issues of their costs and financing. Watch in early 2013 for reports on the marine impacts of seawater desalination and its energy requirements and their greenhouse gas implications.

Assessment of California’s Water Footprint

water_footprint_cover_small.jpg The Pacific Institute released the first comprehensive assessment of California’s Water Footprint, providing an important perspective on the interconnections between everyday activities and impacts to water resources – both at home and around the world. Media around the country picked up the story about this research, furthering the awareness and conversation of leverage points for reducing water impacts and creating a more sustainable society.

Finding Water Fountains – There’s an App for That 

/wetap_site.jpg The Pacific Institute, in collaboration with Google, created WeTap to help address a major water challenge: finding, supporting, and expanding the nation’s public drinking water fountains. This year we launched a new website for WeTap which allows users to quickly and easily look up information about public drinking water fountains on an international database with information on fountains’ locations, condition, and quality – and provides information on the story and importance of water fountains.

Cadiz Groundwater Pumping Called Unsustainable
Since 2001, the Pacific Institute has been among the voices finding serious problems with the Cadiz Valley Groundwater Recovery and Storage Project – a private venture in the Mohave Desert in San Bernardino County, California – which was subsequently halted over economic and environmental concerns, but has since been revived. In March, Senior Research Associate Dr. Newsha Ajami submitted public comments on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, concluding that “the project is clearly unsustainable from a hydrological and ecological perspective.” The Pacific Institute continues to bring this important California water policy issue forward; as stated in the Sacramento Bee Op Ed by Dr. Ajami and Dr. John Bredehoeft of the Hydrodynamics Group: “Cadiz…would set a precedent for future privatization of groundwater in other desert basins. This calls for a broader public policy debate and discussion of state groundwater policy – or lack thereof.”


Resources and Tools for 21st Century Water Managers 

The Pacific Institute surveyed urban and agricultural water agencies, aggregating new information to better understand what goes into determining the right price for water. The survey results informed a series of workshops on water rates and finances in partnership with the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the California-Nevada section of the America Water Works Association, attended by over 100 utility staff, board members, and other interested parties. Presentations from the workshops are available online and cover a range of finance-related issues including capital finance basics, water demand forecasting tools, innovative water rate structures, affordability programs, and a public goods charge for water. Fact sheets and a research report on water rates will be coming out in 2013!

CE2_manual_cover.jpg We also released several new online tools for 21st century water managers: The Urban Water Demand to 2100 Model, analyzing effects of climate, prices, populations, and technology on urban water demand; WeSim, the Water-Energy Simulator, evaluating the energy and greenhouse gas implications of water management decisions; and the Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency (CE2) Model, analyzing costs of water conservation programs and associated water, energy, and financial savings.

river_friendly_logo.gif The Pacific Institute helped Sacramento County promote “River-Friendly Landscaping” as a way for its citizens to save water and money and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with the development of our first open-source online calculator. The River-Friendly Landscape Benefits Calculator at helps homeowners and the general public, as well as developers and planners, estimate the benefits of converting their landscape to a “river-friendly” one.   

Presenting Inaugural Farm Water Steward Award


John Stephens, left, with his daughter Marcy Stephens holding his award, and Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith

On World Water Day, March 22, the Pacific Institute presented Yolo County farmer John Stephens with the Inaugural Farm Water Steward Award at an award dinner celebration that recognized leaders and innovators in the agricultural community. A fourth-generation farmer on the Oakdale Ranch, John Stephens worked with Audubon California to improve water quality, drainage, and wildlife habitat by restoring Willow Slough, which runs through his property. Mr. Stephens’ waterway restoration project is one of the 12 Farm Water Success Stories and video interviews from the Pacific Institute.

Popular Op-Eds and Blogs in 2012  

-“Risks from Climate Change Linked to Social Factors,” Op Ed by Heather Cooley in the Sacramento Bee.


- “Contra Costa at a Criminal Justice Crossroads,” Op Ed by Eli Moore, Adam Kruggel, and LaVern Vaugh


   -“New Report Helps Separate the Frack from the Fiction,” Op Ed by Heather Cooley in the Sacramento Bee.    


- Plan to Tap Groundwater for Profit Shows Need for Better State Policy – the Cadiz Project,” Op Ed by Dr. Newsha Ajami and Dr. John Bredehoeft in the Sacramento Bee.




Peter Gleick on
The Huffington Post:

-”16 Water Recommendations for the Next President”  

- “The Very Real Threat of Sea-level Rise to the United States







Peter Gleick, president, talks with Public Radio Station KPCC about the implications of the drought. Listen here

Peter Gleick: Climate change is happening
Climate Change is Happening” with Peter Gleick.

-Eli Moore, co-director of the Community Strategies Program, discusses “Curbing Sprawl, Protecting Health: Building Housing for the Bay Area’s Most Vulnerable Residents.” Listen to the Podcast here.


 -Meena Palaniappan, former director of the Pacific Institute International Water and Communities Initiative, talks with KCBS about how mobile phone applications can help improve water and sanitation services in developing countries. Listen here.    


-Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, talks with KQED about water scarcity and what it means for California’s future energy production in the second part of the Water and Power series. Listen here.


-Michael Cohen, senior research associate in the Water Program, talks with Minnesota Public Radio about the future of the
Salton Sea. Listen here (comes in at 4:13).

Climate Change Adaptation

cec_ca_map1_2012.jpgAdaptation Strategies for Social Vulnerability to Climate Change
Social and economic factors directly affect a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate impacts. Our report
Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in California identifies geographic areas within the state where there are large groups of people with heightened risk to a projected climate-related hazard. The analysis set the pace for climate adaptation planning efforts around the country – and demonstrates the importance of involving community voices.

The case study of Oakland, Calif. report identifies more than 50 strategies for building community resilience and adapting to climate change impacts such as extreme heat, flooding, wildfire, poor air quality, and rising food, water, and electricity prices. The Institute debuted our new interactive game of Climate Change Survivor - about building resilience to climate change impacts – at WillowFest, a West Oakland neighborhood festival to raise awareness about preparing and protecting families and the community from local climate change impacts.


Empowering People and Communities

Participants at the sustainable water jobs convening


Sustainable Water Jobs Convening

The Pacific Institute brought together 15 leading practitioners from organizations across the nation working to link disadvantaged communities with green jobs in the water sector. Participants offered key insights into the challenges and successes they have witnessed, and provided feedback on how the Pacific Institute research will be used in practice and where efforts may be focused to take full advantage of opportunities for sustainable water jobs. Our new national assessment of water-related green job opportunities will be released early in 2013!


Testing the Community Choices Tool and Mobile Phone Apps for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

The International Water and Communities and Initiative successfully field-tested our Community Choices for Water tool with communities in Ghana and Burkina Faso, empowering households with knowledge of water treatment technologies to solve their acute unclean water challenges.
With our partners in Indonesia, we successfully field-tested the

Indonesia WATER SMS System, using mobile-phone-to-web-technology to improve water service to the poor. In 2013, we will run a public pilot test before releasing the open-source platform.

The Institute and Nexleaf Analytics also released a new report assessing how

mWASH solutions like this can amass and disseminate information quickly and thoroughly – directly to or from the underserved populations most in need of service from water providers.

Multiple-Use Water Services

MUS_report_cover.jpg Our new report examined Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS), a water-provision and management approach that has emerged as a way to realize the poverty- alleviation potential of water projects. By connecting livelihoods to water supply, MUS seeks to improve nutrition, boost income, and help the rural and peri-urban poor climb the water ladder to make more sophisticated use of water beyond their basic health needs.


Community mapping workshop in West Port Arthur, Texas


Community Mapping Initiative

Our Community Mapping Initiative - which uses mapping technologies to build community voice and power to create positive change in local environmental and health conditions – delivered workshops to members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe to map and protect their sacred sites around California’s Shasta reservoir. We also held workshops with residents in Port Arthur, Texas focused on their vision for the future and identifying opportunity sites for land uses that meet community needs.

Corporate Water Policy and Sustainability  


CEO Water Mandate Convenes Meetings Worldwide

water_as_casualty_cover.jpgIn 2012, the UN CEO Water Mandate, for which the Pacific Institute serves as Secretariat, moved responsible corporate water stewardship into the 21st century at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France; Rio+20 UN Summit in Brazil; and World Water Week in Stockholm. These sessions focused on the Mandate’s current core workstreams: 1) corporate water disclosure; 2) business, water, and human rights; and 3) water-related collective action. They sought to introduce, explain, and garner feedback on recent Mandate publications and tools, including the online Water Action Hub, Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, Guide to Water-Related Collective Action, and Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship, and to determine how they can be effectively implemented on-the-ground.

Rio+20: Business Leaders Commit to Water Sustainability and New Research on Water Risk for Business in Conflict Areas

water_as_casualty_cover.jpg Forty-five CEO Water Mandate endorsers rocked the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum - the largest business delegation to ever attend a UN Summit – committing to advance corporate water management practices and calling on governments to make global water security a priority. The CEOs outlined a range of public policy actions they believe governments should undertake to make meaningful progress on water and to better leverage the resources and capabilities of the international business community. In advance of Rio +20, the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute also released the report Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas.

CEO Water Mandate Launches First Platform to Unite Stakeholders on Water Stewardship Projects
water_action_hub.jpg With work led by the Pacific Institute, the UN CEO Water Mandate launched the
Water Action Hub - the world’s first online platform to unite companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders facing critical water challenges in specific river basins around the planet. Along with the Hub, the Institute published the Guide to Water-Related Collective Action which lays out how effective collective action in sustainable water management is both the key to approaching shared risk successfully and addressing a substantial point of vulnerability for many companies. 

Two New Websites Make the Clear Case for Sustainability Standards Systems
The Pacific Institute and partners launched two websites, Framing Sustainability Standards and Sustainability Standards 101, providing a much needed narrative for sustainability standards and giving standards practitioners “framing tools” to communicate the value of standards for advancing sustainable development to policy makers, businesses, and communities. Illustrations, slidecasts, and sample scripts are all made available for download, adaptation, and use.

Voices that Lead to Change

U.S. and Mexico Sign Historic Agreement Guaranteeing Water for the Colorado River Delta

U.S. and Mexican commissioners of a binational agency that manages water crossing the border signed the historic Minute 319 to begin restoring water flows in the lower Colorado River - a critical issue the Institute has been working on since 1996, with major research reports, outreach, and action. The agreement signals a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico and a milestone in the two countries’ recognition of the environmental value of water left to flow in the Colorado River.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at the Salton Sea. Credit: Fernando Acosta, Jr./Imperial Valley Press

Salazar Visits Salton Sea, Promises Support  

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar toured the Salton Sea on December 14 at the invitation of California Senator Barbara Boxer, and the Pacific Institute’s Michel Cohen was among the experts there to discuss the future of the beleaguered Sea. The Imperial Valley Press reported that something “historic may finally be happening: momentum in Washington toward restoration of the Salton Sea may be building. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledged ‘full support for moving forward and finding real solutions to the challenges that we face [at the Salton Sea].’” The Pacific Institute has been working on Salton Sea issues for 15 years, and our reports on the Sea have been downloaded nearly 200,000 times. 


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the UN Water and Security Meeting

Country Leaders on Board with a 21st Century Water Policy

Dr. Peter Gleick presented on the panel at the United Nations Water and Security Meetings, addressing problems and solutions around water and conflict, a topic the Institute has worked on for more than two decades. At these meetings, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made the strong statement: “Water should be a priority for this nation’s foreign policy and domestic agenda.”


Our 2012 work on water and conflict includes the Water and Conflict Chronology and the report Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas.  


California Approves Regulation on Agricultural Water Measurement and Pricing

The California Water Commission approved new agricultural water measurement regulations that would require most agricultural water suppliers in the state to start monitoring and reporting how much water they use – a regulation worked on by the Institute’s Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith. The new regulation closes this critical data gap and allows water managers to more accurately manage the state’s waters supply to sustain California’s agriculture and environment.   

California Governor Signs Human Right to Water  

The Pacific Institute has been at the forefront of advocating for the human right to water internationally, and last year worked with several member organizations of the Safe Water Alliance in California to document nitrate contamination of groundwater that has wide-reaching effects on the state’s own health, economic vitality, and environmental well being. On September 25, 2012, the basic human right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water became part of California state policy when Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 685, co-sponsored by the Safe Water Alliance. Community groups and environmental justice, public health, and environmental organizations, drawn together by a shared commitment to improve access to safe drinking water in California’s poorest communities, have been advocating for many years at the local, regional, and state level for this right. 


Clarence Ford, Lavern Vaughn, and Jeff Rutland of the Safe Return Project

Research Recommendations Lead to Investment in People Not Jails

Contra Costa became one of the first counties in California to say no to jail expansion and put resources toward evidence-based strategies for reducing recidivism – following the groundbreaking participatory research of the Safe Return Project, supported by the Pacific Institute. Research has shown that policies such as reformed pre-trial sentencing, transitional employment and housing, ending ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) holds, and integrated reentry services could resolve the need for expanded jail space and better serve community health and safety.


Recognition in 2012

Michael Cohen

Pacific Institute Receives Partners in Conservation Award for Colorado River Work

The Pacific Institute’s Michael Cohen was a recipient of the prestigious “Partners in Conservation Award” presented by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Mr. Cohen contributed to the development of the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study under the Bureau of Reclamation’s Basin Study Program.


WASH SMS Presentation from Pacific Institute Wins “Best Poster” at Water Week


Misha Hutchings accepts award from Darryl Day of the International Water Association.

The Pacific Institute won Best “Cities of the Future” Presentation at Singapore International Water Week for participatory development of the WASH SMS system – using mobile phone applications to improve water service for the poor. The poster, presented by Research Associate Misha Hutchings, illustrated how stakeholder involvement in participatory system design has fostered relationships among the involved groups, which will also help support future communication through the system.

Reaching Out


Publications, Downloads, Media, and Presentations Make Huge Impact

In 2012, the Pacific Institute released 16 newpublications on desalination, fracking, the human right to water, water-related collective action, social vulnerability to climate change, multiple use water services, sustainability standards, California’s water footprint, and more. These 2012 releases have already been downloaded more than 400,000 times, and were covered by major media both here and abroad. This year our websites ( and ( received more than 18 million hits, with our research downloaded more than 1.9 million times. Our work on desalination and sea-level rise have each been downloaded more than 600,000 times over recent years, followed closely by research on water risks for businesses and on water conservation and efficiency – an astounding measure of the importance of our work!


Media covered the Institute and cited our work nearly 700 times, including outlets like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, Sacramento Bee, UK Guardian, and more.

The Pacific Institute’s RSS Feed – for folks to keep up with our media coverage highlights – is one of the most popular pages on our website, downloaded some 200,000 times last year. You can also keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Pacific Institute research staff presented or led workshops at more than 100 venues both at home and around the world in 2012, from universities, water manager gatherings, and local communities from Oakland, Calif. to Saaba, Burkina Faso, to international meetings from South Africa to Stockholm.


Pacific Institute staff blogged from Ghana communities.

Notes from the Field

In 2012, researchers from the International Water and Communities Initiative blogged from all over the world – Ghana, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, and more – where they spoke 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 2013. 


Pacific Institute’s Summer Interns

Interns Caroline Hodge (left) and Melia Ungson
Left to right: Interns Kaitlin Toyama, Genora Givens, and Daryl Ford

The Pacific Institute welcomed five summer research interns in 2012. Kaitlin Toyama, Genora Givens, and Daryl Ford were Diversity for Sustainability Interns, a program that is part of the Pacific Institute’s commitment to furthering diverse perspectives both in our own work and in the critical fields of environmental sustainability and social justice. Caroline Hodge joined the Water Program as our second annual Stanford and Government Fellow, and Melia Ungson worked with the Institute’s Globalization Program.

Quick Links   

WWW.PACINST.ORG View our videos on YouTube   Follow us on Twitter    Like us on Facebook