May 2012 Online Update 


Celebrating 25 Years


Looking back: For 25 years, the Pacific Institute has provided research, solutions, and outreach to promote safe water and sanitation for all, including innovative community-scale projects, sustainable water management strategies, and filling key information needs. In 2006, we launched the International Water and Communities Initiative to address the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation in developing countries and directly empower residents to become active participants in improving their water and sanitation conditions. Research bears out that effective systems of operation and maintenance involve local residents in the decision-making process, and we have worked to develop community-centered decision-making support tools to release trapped knowledge in the water sector, so that it flows to those that need to make decisions to improve their health, and also bubbles up from community residents to support better planning and policymaking. Our projects, like the Community Choices for Water tool (see Pilot Testing below), give local governments, NGOs, and residents access to current information to build and finance appropriate solutions through an online decision support system. With our decades of experience in participatory research and planning, we continue to be a leader in the areas of water and sanitation and citizen involvement – and we continue to push innovations that empower underserved communities to advocate for and build systems that meet their basic needs for water and sanitation.

New Report Assesses How Mobile Phone Applications Can Help Improve Water and Sanitation for the Poor


AWS BAnner Growing populations, decreasing water availability, and more erratic precipitation due to climate change are causing an urban water and sanitation crisis, making it even harder for utilities in low- and middle-income countries already struggling from lack of infrastructure and adequate planning to provide service for the most vulnerable populations. The urban poor often have no way to advocate for their basic needs for water and sanitation because their problems are invisible to higher levels of delivery, planning, and policymaking. Information is powerful, yet scarce, when it does not have to be. Accessible communication systems, such as mobile phone for water, sanitation, and hygiene – or mWASH – applications, can support utilities and local governments to improve infrastructure, extend services, and plan in the face of challenges such as urbanization and climate change. These applications also enable marginalized groups, including urban poor and women, to become visible to local governments and agencies and to advocate for improved water and sanitation services.


mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector, from the Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics, presents a study of the social considerations, technical options, and program design best practices for the implementation of mobile phone solutions. Through case studies of 14 different projects around the world, the report provides lessons learned and best practices to help inform future implementation for current and potential implementers of mobile phone solutions in WASH and other sectors.

Read the full report with case studies and the Executive Summary here.


Listen to a KCBS interview with Meena Palaniappan, coauthor of the mWASH report, here.


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“This is an institute that focuses on the right questions, with the right biases (the planet, the poor and safeguarding our global future) and does first rate research to produce provocative, relevant recommendations … The Institute work means that more and more of the world is paying  attention to the important issues.”      


-Margaret Catley-Carlson,

Patron and Former Chair of the Global Water Partnership  





Meena Palaniappan, 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.


Pacific Institute Develops CE2 Model to Evaluate the Costs and Benefits of Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency Measures

AWS BAnner Over the past 25 years, water conservation and efficiency improvements have provided real water savings, allowing many agencies to maintain or reduce water use while meeting the needs of a growing population and economy. Recent studies indicate that despite the improvements that have already been achieved, significant water conservation potential remains.

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. Designed primarily for water utility staff, the model quickly and easily calculates financial metrics that are meaningful and readily understood by planners and managers and provides a common platform through which to discuss the costs and benefits of water conservation and efficiency. Additionally, it may be of use to consultants, non-governmental organizations, and others interested in water conservation and efficiency and sustainable management of water resources.

Read more about the CE2 Model.

A Training Webinar for the CE2 Model is offered by its developers on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT. During the hour-long session, Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency: Free Software Demo and Training, Matthew Heberger and Heather Cooley will introduce the software, demonstrate its use, and answer questions. More details are below, under “Upcoming Events.”

Analysis of Water Management in Arizona’s Verde Valley Can Help Planning in Water-Scarce Regions


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Verde Valley agricultural community

The water of the Verde Valley in central Arizona, both in the ground and flowing at the surface, is a natural resource that is critical to the regional economy, environmental sustainability, and quality of life – but the Verde River faces unprecedented threats from over-allocation, development, and lack of cohesive water management. The report Policy Options for Water Management in the Verde Valley, Arizona examines possible futures for the Verde River within the Verde Valley and includes three detailed case studies of the Middle Rio Grande Basin in New Mexico, the Deschutes River Basin in Oregon, and the Edwards Aquifer in south central Texas that examine how other water managers in the western United States have begun reforming groundwater management to maintain river flows.


The analysis demonstrates that the water resources of the Verde River basin, if managed wisely, can meet the needs of cities, farms, and nature, as well as provide for future growth. The more than a dozen recommendations for water policy and management reforms offered by the authors will be equally valuable to other regions dealing with water scarcity and groundwater depletion.


Read the full report here.


Pilot Testing of Community Choices for Water Tool in Ghana


Participants standing in front of an implemented water solution (Biosand filter) recommended by the CCW tool.

In April 2012, Senior Associate John Akudago conducted pilot testing of the Community Choices for Water decision-support system ( in three communities in northern Ghana where hygiene needs are enormous. In partnership with NewEnergy, World Vision, Rural Aid, Pronet North, and Water and Sanitation for Africa, Community Choices for Water (CCW) was tested to help communities in Cheshei in the Tamale Municipality and Dinaso and Gofal Sahi in the Wa East District in the Upper West Region. The goal of the pilot was to test the prototype to evaluate the effectiveness of CCW in releasing trapped knowledge and assisting residents in implementing sustainable solutions for household drinking water treatment.     


The internet-based prototype includes many field-proven technologies and is designed to empower water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) professionals and communities themselves to choose technologies based on their responses to a set of questions that reflect cultural, socio-economic, hydrological, and religious factors. Interaction with the communities involved revealed that community members know the water available to them from their various sources is not suitable for drinking, and they found the CCW useful because they learned new ways to treat their water. Observations from the work in the pilot communities have helped define next steps for Community Choices for Water.

Read more from Dr. John Akudago on his pilot test of the Community Choices for Water tool in Ghana.


Check out the Community Choices for Water tool here.


Notes From the Field     

By Dr. John Akudago, Senior Research Associate


Household Water Treatment Could Improve or Maintain Access to Water Coverage

Unclean water sold from tanker in Zouzugu.
I heard the good news from the Director of Water and Sanitation for Africa, Mr. Idrissa Doucoure, at a sustainability framework workshop in Acrra, Ghana, on April 3, 2012: Ghana had achieved its Millennium Development Goal for water supply. But, Mr. Idrissa was quick to add that a high percentage of water coverage and access to an “improved source” of water today did not mean that the goal of “sustainable access to safe drinking water” has been met for the years ahead.
A week after the workshop, on my way from Cheshei to Tamale in Northern Ghana I spotted a water tanker delivering water at Zouzugu, a rural community about 15 Km south of Tamale. Zouzugu is a rural community near Tamale and had an elevated tank that was supposed to store water from the main Tamale water supply network for the community to use…
Continue reading.
Gofal Sahi Gets Excited with Community Choices for Water
Ms. Barakisu Yusuf of the Gofal Sahi community drawing clean water from Biosand filter.


“When you arrived from Wa at our community, we thought you were another group coming to deceive us,” said Ms. Barakisu Yusuf. Though Gofal Sahi community has received several promises of a borehole, the government officials have never returned to fulfill the promises. She added, “We never knew we could ever get clean water in our community.”

Ms. Yusuf has been staying in the community for several years but has never had the opportunity to taste clean water. Through a pilot test of our Community Choices for Water tool, she and nine other women constructed Biosand filters using locally available plastic containers, river sand, and gravel…
Continue reading.


New Staff Joins the Pacific Institute  


AWS BAnnerThe Pacific Institute welcomes Finance and Operations Manager Cindy Foley. Ms. Foley brings a wealth of experience working with small companies to achieve and maintain fiscal viability. Prior to joining the Institute, Cindy was Interim Executive Director/Finance and Operations Manager at Marin Services for Women and has experience working in creative agencies – advertising and public relations – with a focus on short- and long-term planning and day-to-day financial, administrative, and HR management. Cindy, her children, and grandchildren are all Oaklandish.

Report from Circle of Blue  


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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 Circle of Blue and its partner, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars China Environment Forum, have begun field research and reporting for Choke Point: China II. The project follows the groundbreaking Choke Point: China series, which produced the first comprehensive from-the-field accounts of China’s water-energy confrontations. Circle of Blue’s field findings from Choke Point: China discovered that the fastest growing industrial economy on Earth faces a steadily approaching energy shortage by the end of the decade. The shortage is not the result of energy scarcity. Rather, China does not have enough freshwater to mine, process, and consume one billion more metric tons of coal every year that government authorities say it will need by 2020. Most of that coal will come from five northern desert provinces, which produce 70 percent of the nation’s coal and yet are already encountering severe freshwater scarcity. The articles and design graphics have been republished on more than 100 websites worldwide, with the majority based in China and other Asian nations. Choke Point: China II is supported by Skoll Global Threats Fund.

In Brief


Pacific Institute Co-sponsors Climate Day of Action
The Pacific Institute co-sponsored the “Connecting the Dots” Climate Day of Action event on May 5 at Crissy Field in San Francisco, Calif. with, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club East Bay chapter, among other organizations. The event raised awareness about actions that people can take now to address coastal flooding from sea-level rise and other local impacts of climate change in the Bay Area.  


Safe Return Project Leads Forum on Recidivism Issues   On May 12, the Safe Return Team, a group of community researchers supported by the Pacific Institute, led a forum on issues facing people coming home from incarceration. Safe Return presented research from an extensive needs survey and case study research and proposed policy changes to numerous public officials and several hundred community members.

Read more about the Safe Return Project.


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:   


Heather Cooley, Water Program Co-Director, and Matthew Heberger, Water Program Research Associate:
- facilitated a workshop on the use and application of the Water-Energy Simulator (WESim) at the Ontario Water Works Association/American Water Works Association annual conference in Niagara Falls, Canada.


Mai-Lan Ha, Globalization Program Research Associate:
- spoke at the University of Denver’s Center on Rights Development 13th Annual Human Rights Symposium on “Dying of Thirst: The Right to Water in a Globalized World.”
- spoke on corporate water stewardship, business, and human rights at the panel, “Who Owns the Water: The Move Toward Privatization and Corporate Responsibility.”


Catalina Garzón, Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program Co-Director, and Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, Water Program Senior Research Associate:
- co-facilitated a workshop on connecting local work on water issues to federal water policy at the annual River Rally gathering in Portland, Oregon sponsored by the River Network.


Catalina Garzón:
- presented on the results of a regional mapping project to assess freight transport hazards in areas prioritized for infill housing development in the San Francisco Bay Area at a regional workshop sponsored by the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative on strategies to address the community impacts of diesel pollution.
- participated in a roundtable panel discussion on “Regional Strategies to Achieve Transportation Justice” at the 2012 State of the Region event sponsored by Urban Habitat in Oakland, Calif.
- presented about the popular education tools that the Community Strategies Program has developed with community partners to engage residents in the research process as part of a panel on “Methods for Community Engagement in Research” sponsored by the CalCorps Public Service Center at UC Berkeley.

Upcoming Events

- Pacific Institute Hosts First Training Webinar for Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency Software

Join staff from the Pacific Institute on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT to learn how to use a new, free software application designed to help estimate the cost effectiveness of water conservation and efficiency measures. The Pacific Institute’s new CE² Model allows water utilities and others to quickly and easily evaluate the financial desirability of water conservation measures. Its output includes financial metrics that are meaningful and readily understood by planners and managers. During the hour-long session, Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency: Free Software Demo and Training, developers Matthew Heberger and Heather Cooley will introduce the software, demonstrate its use, and answer questions.


Intended Audience: The primary audience for the CE² Model is water utility staff. Additionally, it may be of use to consultants, nonprofits, and others interested in water conservation and efficiency and sustainable management of water resources. The webinar is free and open to anyone. (Long distance charges may apply if you choose the call-in option.) Use of the CE² Model requires Windows and Microsoft Excel and Access 2003 or better.

You can download the free software and user manual here

To Register: Click here to register. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


For More Information, contact Heather Cooley ( or Matthew Heberger ( at the Pacific Institute, or call 510-251-1600 x114.

- On Saturday, May 19, Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program Co-Directors Catalina Garzón and Eli Moore will facilitate a workshop on community mapping at the Environmental Justice Encuentro in Houston, TX, an annual gathering of environmental justice leaders in Gulf Coast communities. You can register for this free public event here

In the News 


- Yahoo! News spoke with Michael Cohen about the bleak future of the Salton Sea. Read it here.


- Meena Palaniappan, director of the International Water and Communities Initiative, spoke with KCBS on the new mWASH report to discuss how mobile phone applications can help improve water and sanitation services in developing countries. Read it here.


- WaterTech Online also covered the mWASH report, which details how water and sanitation practitioners have begun to tap the potential of these phones as tools to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. Read it here.


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