New Report Analyzes Desalination, California

Following a year-long analysis, the Pacific Institute finds that most of California’s seawater desalination proposals are premature. According to the new report, “Desalination, With a Grain of Salt,” most of the 21 desalination projects proposed in California fail to adequately address economic realities, environmental concerns, or potential social impacts.

Desalilnation, With a Grain of Salt“Desalination will be part of California’s water future, but the future’s not here yet,” said Dr. Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute and coauthor of the report. “Most California communities can find additional water, quicker and for less money, by improving efficiency and management.”

Recent gains in desalination efficiency are being offset by rising interest rates and increases in energy and construction costs. Even the cheapest estimates exceed the costs of conservation and efficiency improvements, fixing leaks, and other sources of new supply. As a result, desalination remains an extremely expensive source of fresh water for Californians. Read more, download the report, or purchase it online.

Institute Hosts Workshop
NGO-Corporate Engagement

Furthering its commitment to engaging the NGO community in the creation of international standards, the Pacific Institute organized and hosted the Reinventing Globalization Corporate Engagement NGO Coordination Workshop. The workshop took place on June 15 and 16 in Oakland, California. The 32 participants, who came from all corners of the globe, shared their experiences with corporate engagement and exchanged ideas for coordination strategies among civil society groups.

Jason Morrison
Morrison, speaking at the ISO meeting

"In the face of the increasing influence of multinational corporations, it is essential to have the world’s NGOs sit together and start coordinating their effort," said workshop coordinator Jason Morrison. "This workshop provided a unique and much needed forum."

Presently, the NGO community has no systematic framework for linking and integrating the various activities and approaches of the civil society groups focusing on corporate engagement/accountability issues. The workshop was organized to address this issue by providing a forum for sharing lessons and experiences and to develop plans for future coordination efforts. Participants identified specific activities that they will undertake together, and a facilitating team of eight was created to move the project forward. Mari Morikawa and Peter Gleick also attended the workshop.

Risky Business I: Security Risks of Climate Change

On May 16, 2006, Peter Gleick addressed the U.S. Congress at a hearing entitled Energy as a Weapon: Implications for U.S. Security.

"It is widely acknowledged that the dependence of the U.S. on imported energy resources can lead to economic pressures and tensions or as triggers to conflict when other pressures and tensions exist between nations," said Gleick. "Less appreciated is the extent to which the environmental impacts of energy use can lead to international security threats, especially when those impacts are as severe and wide-ranging as climate change." Download his testimony

Risky Business II: Business Risks of Water

Corporations and institutional investors face new risks and challenges relating to water. Uninterrupted access to reliable, affordable and clean water is now a critical issue for the investment and corporate communities because of the increasingly significant effects that water-resource availability and quality are having on economic growth and activity, paths to development, and markets around the world.

"With few exceptions, corporations and investors are unfamiliar with freshwater-related risks or opportunities and are unfamiliar with the range of measures available to reduce or capitalise on them. Neglecting water factors is not prudent," write Pacific Institute co-authors Peter Gleick and Jason Morrison.

"REMAINING DROPS Freshwater resources: A global issue" was co-written for CLSA U by Gleick and Morrison, as well as James Newcomb and Todd Harrington of Bio-Era. Published in January, it is now available online.



“Our communities cannot be rushed into desalination projects – the economic, environmental, and social costs of desalination are too high. Local, state, and national laws do not sufficiently protect our communities from costly mistakes.”

– Heather Cooley, lead author of "Desalination, With a Grain of Salt," more


The Pacific Institute has a position open for a Research Associate/ Senior Associate in resource economics. We seek an individual to work on ongoing projects related to sustainable water management and use (cost/benefits of water-use efficiency programs and technology, agricultural economics), economic globalization (trade, international economics), and environmental economic assessment. Interest and experience in one or more of these areas is an important advantage.

For the full job posting, and information on how to apply, click here or go to www.pacinst.org.


7/20/06. Colorado River
[San Ysidro, Calif.] Michael Cohen will meet with IBWC/CILA to finalize the table of conservation projects and other activities occurring in the Colorado River Delta.

7/21/06. Salton Sea; Desalination [Anaheim, Calif.] Michael Cohen and Heather Cooley will be attending the Water Education Foundation’s 13th Annual Water Education Foundation’s Water Policy & Law Briefing. Cohen will participate on the "Salton Sea Solutions: Effect on Southern California" panel. Cooley will present the Pacific Institute’s latest report, "Desalination, With a Grain of Salt."

Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative Honored

Breathe California awarded the Pacific Institute-led Ditching Dirty Diesel collaborative on June 2 for leadership and grassroots advocacy. The award recognized the collaborative "for developing strong, collaborative solutions to reducing diesel emissions in the Bay Area. … Their advocacy has educated and built awareness and is leading to positive environmental change in the community." More

Don't Sit Idle


HAZARD coverWater projects criticized Marin Independent Journal, 6/27/06

A new water boon Contra Costa Times, 6/28/06

Report: Desal plants too costly Monterey County Herald, 6/28/06

Desalination still years away for West Las Vegas Sun, 6/29/06

Report: Desalination too expensive WaterTech Online, 6/29/06

Desalination projects quickly gaining steam Contra Costa Times, 6/30/06

Editorial: Desalination a dud? Sacramento Bee, 7/3/06


Water: Is It the Next Oil? Here on Earth, 6/4/06 (Real Audio)

Water Quest Shifts Course Los Angeles Times, 6/11/06

New Director sets right course for Salton Sea Authority The Desert Sun, 6/11/06

A Glass of Water, Anyone? The Media Line, 6/14/06

Richmond considers rezoning crematorium West County Times, 6/21/06

Soquel Creek Water District goes green Santa Cruz Sentinel, 6/25/06

A call to revitalize once-lush estuary San Diego Union Tribune, 6/26/06

Water Outperforms Oil, Luring Pickens, GE’s Immelt, Guy Hands Bloomberg.com, 6/26/06

Water, water everywhere Oakland Tribune, 6/29/06

Water’s a precious commodity – So why isn’t it traded on an exchange like oil? MarketWatch, 6/30/06

Getting Fresh: A chat with freshwater experts Peter Gleick and William K. Reilly Grist Magazine, 6/30/06


6/29/06. Environmental Justice [San Francisco, Calif.] Margaret Gordon participated in a Focusing Our Vision Technical Advisory Committee meeting. Gordon serves as the environmental justice delegate to the committee.

6/27/06 Colorado River [Yuma, Ariz.] Michael Cohen met with IBWC/CILA to develop and revise a table of conservation projects and other activities occurring in the Colorado River delta.

6/27/06. Desalination [online] The Pacific Institute released "Desalination, with a Grain of Salt." See HEADLINES.

6/26-6/27/06. Corporate Responsibility [Park City, Utah] At the Multi-State Working Group’s annual conference, Jason Morrison facilitated a roundtable dialogue on the Facility Reporting Project (FRP), a local-level corporate sustainability disclosure framework. The roundtable focused on assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of more closely aligning the FRP with state and federal environmental leadership initiatives.

6/26/06. Colorado River [Phoenix, Ariz.] Michael Cohen met with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other NGOs to discuss plans to construct new re-regulating reservoirs near the All-American Canal.

6/26/06. Environmental Indicators [Oakland, Calif.] Margaret Gordon attended a meeting hosted by InfoBayArea. The organization strives to promote social equity and empowerment of residents and community-based organizations in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in the Bay Area through increased access to good data, assistance in gathering and analyzing data, and collaboration in using data as a tool for promoting positive social change.

6/22/06. Privatization [San Francisco, Calif.] Gary Wolff presented his recent report Beyond Privatization: Restructuring Water Systems to Improve Performance at the national WaterKeepers Alliance meeting. More than 200 Keepers from around the country were in attendance.

6/15-6/18/06. Environmental Health [Los Angeles, Calif.] Margaret Gordon attended the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication.

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