March 2011 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet
In This Issue
– World Water Day
– U.S. Water Prize
– Mobile Water-Mapping Tool
– Institute Joins Statewide Task Force
– CEO Water Mandate in South Africa
– In Brief, Events, and News

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Playing God with Species Extinction

Repealing Reality in the Interest of Economic Development

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“Water for Cities” is World Water Day Theme, Focus of Major Projects at Pacific Institute

World Water Day, March 22, is held annually to focus attention on the importance of sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The United Nations reports that by 2030, nearly 60% of humanity will live in cities, resulting in critical problems in the management of urban water and wastewater.

Several of the Pacific Institute’s major water projects for 2011 focus on urban water use, addressing ways to get water to people who need it and to further more efficient use of water for growing populations. From a water rates study, to urban demand in 2050 with and without climate change, to water implications of alternative energy scenarios, the Institute’s research work looks to address the challenges facing us now — and in the future.

“Today, roughly 141 million urban dwellers don’t have access to safe drinking water, and close to 800 million live without access to improved sanitation,” said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute Water Program. “We’re working to identify new policies and approaches that insure urban centers have access to adequate, safe, and affordable water supplies, while promoting healthy ecosystems.”

One new approach the Institute is working on is improving water and sanitation services through crowd-sourced map data using mobile phones. The pilot project is in Indonesia, which ranks sixth in the world for number of mobile phone subscribers. This project provides an exciting new tool for enabling information to flow between communities, governmental entities, and service providers, in support of rapid and informed decision-making.

“This tool will give people a way to report conditions such as poor water quality or quantity, well failures, and failure of private water supplies,” said Meena Palaniappan, director of the International Water and Communities Initiative. “It can be a key way to allow poor urban customers to hold utilities and other water providers accountable, as well as give these utilities important information to better plan in the face of climate variability.”

Read more about urban water use

Read more about the Indonesia project.

Read more about World Water Day.

Pacific Institute Awarded U.S. Water Prize


U.S. Water PrizeThe Pacific Institute has been 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.” The Clean Water America Alliance created the U.S. Water Prize this year to recognize efforts to advance water as a finite, reusable, and sustainable resource.

“The Pacific Institute is honored to be recognized as a leader among organizations working to change the water paradigm with sustainable solutions,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “The U.S. Water Prize highlights the critical importance and the value of the work of the Pacific Institute in seeking and implementing real-world solutions to our water challenges.”

U.S. Water Prize winners will be honored in a special ceremony on May 9, 2011, in Washington, D.C., with national water and environmental leaders in attendance for the celebration.


Read more

Pilot Location Selection for Mobile Phone Water-Mapping Tool



 Residents using river water to bathe and brush their teeth in Medan, North Sumatra Province.  Photo: Fitria Muslih

Indonesia’s rapid urbanization has transformed its cities and has also strained its water supplies and infrastructure, making it imperative to find innovative solutions that can harness emerging technologies and provide accessible and timely solutions for underserved populations. Pacific Institute Research Associate Misha Hutchings is in Indonesia to begin implementation of our Indonesia WATER SMS Project – the mobile-phone-to-web-based mapping system that will give the urban poor a tool to advocate for improved water services.

This month the Pacific Institute’s Indonesian NGO partner, PATTIRO, will complete an assessment of five potential pilot locations in Java, North Sumatra, and South Sulawesi for initial implementation of the Indonesia WATER SMS Project. In addition to Malang, East Java — which has been selected as the first pilot location — the project partners have developed assessment criteria to ensure that the two locations that are chosen reflect an area where the urban poor population needs a tool to advocate for improved water services, and where water service providers, including utilities and informal vendors, are eager to improve and increase access to safe water supply.

The Pacific Institute, PATTIRO, and Nexleaf Analytics (mobile technologies NGO partner) will select the final pilot locations in March after reviewing the information gathered from the assessment project. Researchers from the Pacific Institute and PATTIRO Malang will also visit communities and water utilities in Malang later this month to begin development of participatory learning sessions to gather information for designing the Indonesia WATER SMS Tool.


Pacific Institute Joins Statewide Task Force on Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Water Use


Senate Bill X7-7 was enacted in November 2009 mandating the California Department of Water Resource (DWR) to convene a task force of academic experts, urban retail water suppliers, environmental organizations, and commercial and industrial water users to develop best management practices for the commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sector. The CII Task Force will submit a report to the Legislature by April 1, 2012 assessing the statewide water-use efficiency potential in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors resulting from implementation of these best management practices. The report will also include an evaluation of the potential for recycled water to meet some portion of these water demands.  


Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute Water Program co-director, and her alternate, Lucy Allen, research associate, are members of the CII Task Force. Heather Cooley noted, “Increasingly, the business community is recognizing the new risks and challenges relating to water. Managing that risk, through implementation of water conservation and efficiency and recycled water, can not only reduce operating costs, it can also reduce vulnerability to water supply constraints and promote reputational and regulatory good will.”


Read more about water savings potential in the  industrial and agricultural sector.

CEO Water Mandate Convenes South African Stakeholders to Improve Corporate Water Management


In 2011, the CEO Water Mandate aims to transform acquired knowledge from its international working conferences and research projects into meaningful action on-the-ground. As part of this effort, the Mandate is working with the German government development agency GIZ to help coordinate a collective action project among major businesses, NGOs, public officials, and other stakeholders in South Africa. The overarching goal of the collective action will be to improve corporate water management in specific watersheds in South Africa so as to mitigate business’ water-related risks and reduce water-related stress on communities and aquatic systems in the region.

In its capacity as part of the CEO Water Mandate Secretariat, the Pacific Institute’s Globalization Program convened an exploratory meeting with business representatives, NGOs, and public agencies on February 11 in Johannesburg to discuss the potential objectives and scope for this collective effort.

Read more about Human Right to Water: Emerging Corporate and Stakeholder Expectations.
Read the Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy.

In Brief 


- Pacific Institute Accepting Applications for Diversity for Sustainability Internship 
The Pacific Institute announces the inaugural year of its Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program, part of the Institute’s commitment to furthering diverse perspectives both in our own work and in the critical fields of environmental sustainability and social justice. The paid program for undergrads or non-students with relevant life experience will bring emerging environmental leaders from a variety of backgrounds to work under the mentorship of knowledgeable research staff at our Oakland office. Interns will develop a deeper understanding of and hands-on experience with fundamental skills for environmental research and outreach and have the opportunity to make connections for their future success. Applications will be accepted through March 28. For details and application requirements, click here.

- Juliet Christian-Smith, senior research associate, spoke in Rome, Italy on February 24 at the GreenAccord’s Study Day on Water. The event was held to inform citizens about water resource challenges and governance strategies. Italians will be voting on a national referendum to privatize water in the coming months.


- Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, presented on the Institute’s work in Oakland on adaptation to climate change at a California Energy Commission meeting on February 18.  


- Peter Gleick, president, gave a talk at Case Western Reserve University on February 16 on peak water. Dr. Gleick also spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting on February 18. His first talk was a tribute to Dr. Stephen Schneider, climatologist and Stanford professor who passed away late in 2010. Dr. Gleick also gave a presentation on “21st Century Water: Understanding Spatial and Temporal Telecoupling.”

On February 24, Peter Gleick gave the keynote address “The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water” at the 2011 Tanner Center Conference: Water, Conflict, and Human Rights — Emerging Challenges and Solutions at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. Gleick kicked off March by giving a lecture on “21st Century Water Challenges” for The Edgerton Lecture Series at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA . You can listen to his talk here


- 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 in Sacramento, Calif. on February 28. Mr. Moore presented the Institute’s research on contamination of drinking water in California and gave recommendations for sustainable solutions to protect public health.


- Jason Morrison, director of the Globalization Program, attended a consultation with the Institute for Human Rights and Business on February 8-9 in association with the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights in Naivasha, Kenya. A group of experts drawn from academia, civil society, business, international organizations, and governments explored the issue of access to land, water, and food within a business and human rights context.

Mr. Morrison also attended a workshop on Scaling Up the Impacts of the Voluntary Standards Movement in Bern, Switzerland on February 13-14. The meeting brought together a broad group of key stakeholders from members of the ISEAL Alliance to provide input and feedback to ensure that standards systems realize their potential in achieving social justice and ecological sustainability worldwide.


- Meena Palaniappan, director of the Institute’s International Water and Communities Initiative, and Peter Schulte, research associate, attended a meeting on developing an Online Platform for Development Aid hosted by Skoll Global Threats Fund and Akvo on February 15. Ms. Palaniappan also hosted a meeting with the co-directors of Akvo, an on-line water and sanitation portal, on February 16.  


-  Meena Palaniappan and Misha Hutchings, research associate, organized and attended project management team meetings on February 7 and 21 for the Institute’s Indonesia Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Mobile Phone project (WASH SMS). During the meetings, the team approved the project management structure, discussed selection of pilot communities, and moved forward to select a cloud service for the project library and communications hub.


- Peter Schulte, research associate, also participated on a stakeholder panel initiated by the Jesuit Conference on February 3 and discussed Bunge Ltd.’s water performance and reporting. Mr. Schulte also met with representatives from various American and Japanese Hitachi companies on February 23 to discuss water-related business risks and stewardship responses at Hitachi America’s offices in Brisbane, CA. 


Upcoming Events

- Juliet Christian-Smith, senior research associate, will speak at a hearing in front of the California Legislature’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on March 8 in Sacramento, Calif. The event is free and open to the public. “Delta Update: Reports from the Delta Water Master and Resources Agency” is Tuesday, March 8, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the California State Capitol Building, Room 112, 1400 Tenth St., Sacramento.


Dr. Christian-Smith will also present at the second session of the Intelligent Use of Water Summit: California Agriculture at a Crossroads at California State University – Fresno in Clovis, Calif. on March 15. The event is open to the public at no charge and will feature two morning panel discussions followed by a lunchtime presentation.The first panel of experts will address land and water rights issues surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which provides water to 25 million Californians and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. The second session will address recent policy initiatives, with an emphasis on the Water Conservation Act of 2009 (SBX7-7, SBX7-6) and its impact on California’s farming industry.The Intelligent Use of Water Summit is Tuesday, March 15, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 808 4th Street, Clovis, Calif.To RSVP to this event, click here


- Peter Gleick, president, will speak on “Peak Water Constraints and Soft Water Path Futures: Freshwater in the 21st Century” at the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee on March 9. The lecture will be held in the Toyota Auditorium located in the Howard Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Avenue, KnoxvilleTenn.and will begin at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The event will also be webcast live on the University of Tennessee website. 

- Catalina Garzón and Eli Moore, co-directors of the Community Strategies Program, will facilitate workshops at the Environmental Justice Encuentro in Galena Park, Texas on March 24-25. The annual regional event brings together community groups, researchers, and others from around the Southwest United States. Ms. Garzón and Mr. Moore will train participants in mapping techniques to engage communities working for environmental justice. The Environmental Justice Encuentro is March 24-25 at the Alvin D. Baggett Community Center, 1302 Keene Street, Galena Park, Texas. To register for this event go to the Air Alliance Houston website.  


- Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, will be presenting on the environmental issues  surrounding seawater desalination at the American Water Works Association Membrane Technology Conference on March 29 in Long Beach, Calif. Content is designed for water utility plant personnel, water and wastewater engineers, designers, consultants, regulators, researchers, and manufacturers. For more information and to register for this event visit:



In the News


 - Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, weighs in on the pro and cons of desalination in an article by David Rosenfeld of Reuters. In discussing desalination as a water management option for California, Ms. Cooley makes a case for water efficiency and conservation for the state. Read the article.  


- Peter Gleick, president, was interviewed in a Contra Costa Times article about a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Dr. Gleick discusses why he disagrees with some recommendations made by the researchers and explains how in failing to address inefficient use in agriculture, the report leaves a “gaping hole” in its recommendations. Read the article.  


- Dr. Gleick wrote an op-ed piece for the Sacramento Bee, discussing the need to address the huge water savings potential of the state’s biggest water user — the agriculture sector. Read the op-ed.  


- ABC TV/Australia hosts on their website a talk given by Peter Gleick at the California Academy of Sciences on reasons to drink tap water and “The Bottled Water Swindle.”


Watch the lecture highlights.  

Watch the full lecture.  


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