June 2012 Online Update 

Celebrating 25 Years


Looking back:  This month leaders from around the world will convene in Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum to build consensus on a more sustainable course for our world. The Pacific Institute has been among the first  to present a  unique vision of a truly sustainable water future and discuss ways to realize that vision, seeking more information to resolve water conflicts by setting new goals and priorities for water-resource management since that first meeting in Rio 20 years ago. In 2012, we continue to advocate sustainable water management practices in California, nationally, and internationally, and our work through the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate has pushed water management beyond regulation, strengthening the business contribution to sustainable development globally. The Institute continues to bring greater scale to responsible business practices, to advance and diffuse sustainable innovation, and to stimulate broader collaboration between companies, governments, and civil society to shape the future we want.

New Research on Water Risks for Business and Society in Conflict Areas Released for Presentation at Rio+20      AWS BAnner

The UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute released the report Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas, in advance of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum. While much research produced in recent years focuses on how water use and pollution can exacerbate conflict, the new report focuses more broadly on the ways conflict and high-risk situations can affect water systems and resources directly.

“To better understand how impacts on water systems will affect operations in high-risk or conflict-affected areas, companies need to proactively analyze the water system’s operating environment and how the company uses water directly and indirectly – and the source of that water,” said Jason Morrison, director of the Pacific Institute Globalization Program and co-author of the report. 

The new research, which also brings together the work of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, provides a framework for understanding the nature of water challenges in conflict and high-risk areas, looking at natural resources, physical infrastructure, human resources, and socio-political and financial systems, with examples of impacts on business operations, as well as anecdotal highlights of what companies are doing in response.

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“I have been familiar with the Institute from its founding in 1987 because of your pioneering work on the connections between environment and international security – an issue of great interest to me. Your research on the risks of conflicts over water worldwide and on global water problems has been especially innovative.”

- Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore

Michael Cohen, Senior Research Associate in the Water Program, spoke to Minnesota Public Radio’s Melissa Block about the future of the Salton Sea. Listen here (comes in at 4:13)

Heather Cooley, Director of the Water Program, spoke to KQED’s  Lauren Summer about water scarcity and what this means for California’s future energy production in the second part of the KQED Water and Power series. Listen here


Pacific Institute Conducts Water Supplier Survey on Rates and Finances to Better Understand Water Pricing

AWS BAnner Water Agency Staff and Board Members Urged to Participate 

The Pacific Institute is conducting the
Water Supplier Survey: Rates and Finances for California to better understand how water is priced by its more than a thousand different water providers, both municipal and private. This survey of urban and agricultural water agencies will aggregate new information to better understand what goes into determining the right price for water. The aggregate survey results will inform a series of workshops and a report on how water rates are set, to be released in the fall of 2012.

Water agency staff and board members can access the survey here. All responses will remain anonymous. Participants will receive a copy of the full aggregate survey results and will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire.

“Understanding how different water suppliers determine pricing will be valuable for both the providers and for the customers,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith of the Pacific Institute. “We know a lot about how water prices are changing, but we don’t always know why. This study will inform efforts to develop strategies for agencies to stay fiscally solvent while providing fair prices.”


Read more.
Take the
Get details about Pacific Institute’s
Water Rates Workshops for Water Agencies and Boards in September 2012.    




Safe Return Project Leaders Present to Their Richmond, Calif. Community 


AWS BAnner
Clarence Ford, Lavern Vaughn, and Jeff Rutland of the Safe Return Project
On Mothers’ Day weekend several hundred people packed into a church in Richmond, Calif. to hear presentations by community leaders involved in the Safe Return Project. The community leaders and Pacific Institute Safe Return Project partner CCISCO presented research and strategies to improve community health and safety. The Safe Return Project is a participatory action research process involving formerly incarcerated residents in conducting research, engaging community members, and developing policy proposals to reduce recidivism and improve community health and safety. Pacific Institute supports Safe Return with research training and strategic planning, along with two partner organizations: CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization) and the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety. At the May community forum, Safe Return members presented research, testimonies, and policy proposals, and heard several public officials commit to implementing the policy recommendations. For more information, go to the Safe Return Project page


Dry Year Forecast for Colorado River Basin Highlights Need for Conservation and Efficiency  

Satellite photo of the Colorado River Delta

The Pacific Institute’s extensive research on water in the seven Colorado River basin states shows a river under siege – but the capacity for water conservation and efficiency to help achieve a sustainable future. Our recent report
Municipal Deliveries of Colorado River Basin Water analyzes the trend toward water saving: from 1990 to 2008, the number of people in the United States and Mexico who use Colorado River basin water increased by more than 10 million – but their overall per capita water use declined by an average of at least one percent per year. Many areas enjoyed a decline in total water demand over this period, even in the face of large population growth.

Such efforts will be even more important as the Colorado River looks to face one of the driest years in the historic record. The National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center has released the June final unregulated flow forecast, which projects that total April-July unregulated inflow in Lake Powell will be only 28% of average. Some portions of the basin had only 5% of average precipitation in May. This extremely dry year will heighten interest in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Study, which examines the supply/demand imbalance on the river and is currently reviewing a suite of potential options and alternatives that could address this imbalance. In collaboration with several other groups, the Pacific Institute submitted agricultural and urban water conservation and efficiency options intended to reduce the supply/demand imbalance quickly, effectively, and at low cost. The Institute also submitted comments in May on Reclamation’s recent quantification of Colorado River basin states’ demands.

Pacific Institute Facilitates Community Participatory Mapping for Environmental Justice in Galena Park, Texas   
Community leaders gathered in Galena Park, Texas to map their community’s environmental challenges and assets and develop their vision for change.

Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Co-Directors (CSSJ ) Catalina Garzón and Eli Moore facilitated a three-day participatory mapping process for 20 leaders from the community of Galena Park, near Houston, Texas. The mapping involved layering community-generated information onto maps of the past and present and developing a map of the future that highlights sites of opportunities to meet community needs. The participants created maps of their community’s environmental challenges and asset, and used the mapping process to develop their vision for change. The mapping was hosted by Air Alliance Houston and was part of the Pacific Institute’s ongoing Community Mapping Initiative. For more information, contact Eli Moore.

Find out more about CSSJ tools and trainings including mapping, in the CSSJ brochure.

Training Webinar Now Available Online for Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency Model

CE2_manual_cover.jpg The Pacific Institute has developed the
Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency (CE2) Model to help evaluate the economic desirability of water conservation and efficiency measures and explore how costs and benefits can be shared among customers, water utilities, and other entities. Matthew Heberger and Heather Cooley hosted a training webinar last month to introduce the software, demonstrate its use, and answer questions, and it is now available online on YouTube.

The model helps document the costs of starting and running a conservation program and estimate the associated water, energy, and financial savings. It is sufficiently general and flexible to address variations in conservation measures regionally and according to the level of analysis because the model outputs are based on conditions defined by the user.

The CE2 Model can also help water conservation practitioners share information across departments and with other water, wastewater, and energy utilities. The model quickly and easily calculates financial metrics that are meaningful and readily understood by planners and managers.

Read more about the CE2 Model.
Watch the
training webinar for the Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency Model.
Download the
User’s Manual.


Report from Circle of Blue  


AWS BAnner
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.


AWS BAnner  

While water privatization projects around the globe continue to be controversial, Manila stands out for its innovations and its impasses, often touted as one of the world’s most extensive urban water privatization projects to date. Circle of Blue explores the challenges and possible futures for Manila’s unique water and sanitation systems, and visits one Manila settlement where clean water is transforming people’s health, community, and economy.


In Brief


Pacific Institute Globalization Program at Rio+20
Director of the Globalization Program Jason Morrison, with research associates Mai-Lan Ha and Peter Schulte, are headed to Brazil on June 14 for Rio+20. The Pacific Institute is organizing all of the
CEO Water Mandate meetings for the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum,showcasing the Mandate’s work spearheaded by the Globalization Program, and releasing new research, including Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas (see top story). With more than 2,300 expected participants, the Corporate Sustainability Forum’s objective is to bring greater scale and quality to corporate sustainability practices and to be a launching ground for widespread action. Be sure to check next month’s Pacific Institute Online Update for details on action at Rio+20!  

Pacific Institute Discusses Preliminary Findings of the Framing International Standards Project at ISEAL Annual Conference

At a Topic Table held at the ISEAL Alliance’s annual conference, Globalization Program Director Jason Morrison and Matthew Wenban-Smith of OneWorldStandards provided an introduction to ‘framing’ and engaged participants in a lively discussion of the preliminary findings and outputs of the Pacific Institute’s Framing International Standards project. By applying cognitive linguistics to improve understanding and uptake of social and environmental standards systems, ‘framing’ is a potentially powerful approach that is widely used to make complex ideas accessible, improve their communication, and build support. The Pacific Institute has been working over the last two years with ISEAL members, affiliates, and the wider standards community to see how insights from the approach can help us align our work and explain and promote the use of social and environmental standards.

Pacific Institute Co-Facilitates Interactive Skill-building Workshop for Participatory Mapping
Program Co-Directors Catalina Garzón and Eli Moore co-facilitated an interactive skill-building workshop on strategies for facilitating participatory mapping with environmental justice communities at the Environmental Justice Encuentro in Houston, Texas. The Encuentro is an annual gathering of environmental justice leaders from Gulf Coast and Southwest communities. This year the gathering was hosted by Texas Southern University, where Dr. Robert Bullard, widely considered the godfather of the environmental justice movement, is the new dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. Dr. Bullard gave the keynote address, and dozens of grassroots organizations shared their respective work on pressing environmental health challenges and successful strategies.

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:

Dr. Newsha Ajami
, Water Program Senior Research Associate:
- participated on a panel at an EcoLogic and Veris Wealth Partners, LLC discussion series on
global water issues and market based opportunities.

Jason Morrison
, Globalization Program Director:
- attended The Water Institute of Southern Africa Biennial Conference and Exhibition (WISA) in Cape Town, South Africa providing an international perspective on the state of play of Corporate Water Stewardship on an opening plenary multi-stakeholder panel.

Upcoming Events

- Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith will be interviewed about U.S. water issues and where we’re headed on WLIP Radio 1050 AM (Wisconsin) — and you can listen to it live online on Wednesday, June 20 at 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time here. During the 45-minute program, Dr. Christian-Smith will be talking about the Pacific Institute’s new book she has co-authored, A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy, coming out at the end of June.


- Research Associate Matthew Heberger will discuss climate change risks to urban infrastructure at the Mediterranean City Conference in Los Angeles on June 26, 9:00-10:00am. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, 711 South Hope Street Los Angeles, California 90017. For more information and to register, click here.


In the News 


- Pete Spotts from the Christian Science Monitor spoke with Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith about key farming areas and the third of the southern Great Plains at risk of tapping out its groundwater resources within the next 30 years. Read the article here.

Heather Cooley, Director of the Water Program, spoke to KQED’s  Lauren Summer about water scarcity and what this means for California’s future energy production in the second part of the KQED Water and Power series. Listen to and read the story here.   

The Non-Profit Press quoted Pacific Institute Globalization Program Director Jason Morrison about the new report Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas, released in advance and for presentation at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum. Read the article here.

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