May 2013 Online Update 
Moving the Meter
The Colorado River, recently named America’s most endangered river, supports millions of people in the American Southwest and northwest Mexico and helps irrigate millions of acres of land. The Institute has been working on key concepts and criteria for sustainable water use within the Colorado basin since our 1996 report, Sustainable Use of Water in the Lower Colorado River Basin. This month, we released Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin, the first report to describe the extent of irrigated agriculture throughout the seven Colorado River basin states and two states in Mexico and compare several agricultural management scenarios and the potential water savings and costs associated with each. Upon receiving our latest report, Dr. Brad Udall, director at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment, wrote, “You all ‘move the meter’ when it comes to influencing policy on the river.”  And we do – working hard to move toward sustainable water management and make difference in the Colorado River Basin and river basins around the world.

Analysis Shows Colorado River Basin Crop Mix Offers Great Opportunity to Conserve Water  

“We know water supply and demand in the Colorado River basin don’t match up, and it will get worse going forward. We know there is much that can be done; the question is how much and where, and how to get there,” said Michael Cohen of the Pacific Institute, lead author of the report Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin. The new research from the Pacific Institute describes the extent of irrigated agriculture throughout the Colorado River basin states, the types of crops grown, and the amount of water used to grow these crops. In addition, the report compares several agricultural management scenarios and the potential water savings and costs associated with each. Importantly, none of the scenarios remove agricultural land from production.



Click here to visit our interactive map of Colorado River basin agriculture, showing federal and state agency information on the amount of irrigated and total harvested acreage in the basin by county, and total reported water use as reported by USGS.


“This analysis improves understanding of crop acreages and water use in the basin and offers a set of plausible scenarios in which some of the water currently devoted to irrigation could be conserved and used for other purposes – without taking agricultural land out of production,” said Cohen.

There are many proven water management techniques already in use in the basin states that – if expanded – could generate significant consumptive use water savings that could be transferred to other users. Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin considers different alternative futures and the importance of developing the right incentives to encourage more efficient water use, as the gap between water supply and demand grows.


Read more.

Download the report.
Download the Executive Summary.         




Ditching Dirty Diesel with Switzer Fellow Catalina Garzon
Ditching Dirty Diesel with Switzer Fellow Catalina Garzon




BERC_Water_2013 - Peter Gleick
Berkeley Energy and Resource Collaborative – Guest Speaker Peter Gleick

New Report Examines Energy Costs’ Impact on Extent and Success of Seawater Desalination in California


key issues in seawater desalination A new report from the Pacific Institute series Key Issues for Seawater Desalination in California describes the energy requirements and associated greenhouse gas emissions for desalinated water and evaluates the impact of short- and long-term energy price variability on the cost of desalinated water.


Energy requirements are key factors that will influence the extent and success of desalination in California. The analysis shows energy requirements for seawater desalination average about 15,000 kWh per million gallons of water produced – far more than other water supply and treatment options. Desalination ­­- through increased energy use – can also cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, further contributing to the root cause of climate change and running counter to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. 


“Beyond the electricity required for the desalination facility itself, producing any new source of water, including through desalination, increases the amount of energy required to deliver and use the water produced as well as collect, treat, and dispose of the wastewater generated,” said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute Water Program and report author. “Conservation and efficiency, by contrast, can help meet the anticipated needs associated with growth while maintaining or even reducing total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.”   


Download the full report.

Download the press release

Pacific Institute and Partners Release Climate Change Survivor Workbook with Games

climate change survivor work book cover

Are You a Climate Change Survivor? is the fun new activity workbook, game, and handy fact sheets from the Pacific Institute and Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) that provide engaging activities to raise awareness about climate change impacts like heat waves, flooding, and poor air quality – and the tools that community members can use to build safety and resilience. From “Climate Justice Human Bingo” to “Community Resilience Lifeboat,” the projects, games, and discussions in the Are You a Climate Change Survivor? activity workbook provide resources and things to do that range from basic learning about climate change and how climate change affects us, to how community members can prepare and how to create more resilient communities.


“The game Climate Change Survivor is like the atmosphere’s version of Sorry!” said Catalina Garzón, director of the Pacific Institute’s Community Strategies Program. “Community groups, community health workers and educators, church groups, schools, families, and even groups of neighbors can download the game board and game cards free online and have a great time while learning about different climate change impacts, how we might be vulnerable, and what we can do to better prepare and protect ourselves from these impacts. And that’s just one of the many resources offered in the new activity workbook.”



The activities and resources were developed by the Pacific Institute and OCAC and piloted at community meetings, events, and workshops. The focus is on creating a space where diverse people and organizations can imagine and implement solutions that protect Oakland residents as they face the local impacts of climate change, such as heat waves, floods, wildfires, poor air quality, and rising utility costs. These tools are an extension of the 2012 Pacific Institute research study Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California, which identifies social vulnerability to climate impacts shaped by a variety of factors, including income, race, health, age, English fluency, etc. The tools in the report and the activity workbook are useful and adaptable for communities around the country in planning climate change impacts resilience strategies.


-Report: Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California

 The CEO Water Mandate’s Water Action Hub Continues to Grow

water action hub International charity WaterAid recently joined over one hundred companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders as part of the Water Action Hub – the world’s first online platform to advance critical water projects in specific river basins around the planet.

In addition, a new partnership between the Mandate and the European Water Partnership, in collaboration with the UN Global Compact’s United Kingdom Local Network, also led to the expansion of “the Hub” to its first European basin, the Thames, with more to follow. With these new additions, the Water Action Hub is now active in seven basins and features roughly 130 organizations working on approximately 120 projects around the world.

The Water Action Hub is an initiative of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and was launched at the CEO Water Mandate’s ninth working conference during World Water Week in Stockholm last year. It was developed by the CEO Water Mandate in partnership with the International Business Leaders Forum; Deloitte; GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; and the Pacific Institute.

Visit the Hub at

Pilot Period Begins for the WASH SMS Platform in Makassar, Indonesia


A press conference panel spoke about their experiences developing the WASH SMS.

On April 30, Pacific Institute, along with its partners Nexleaf Analytics and PATTIRO, launched the first pilot installation of the pioneering WASH SMS platform to support governance of urban water and sanitation in the city of Makassar in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. A press conference panel comprised of system development advisory team members from the Regional Planning Board (BAPPEDA), anti-corruption NGO PERAK, the Karuwisi Neighborhood Community Center, and the Makassar public water utility (PDAM Kota Makassar) spoke about their experiences developing the system together and how they plan to use it in the future. The pilot period will last for two months, after which time the system will be modified based on feedback and pilot results, but will remain online. A second installation will be launched in early May in Malang, East Java.  


Referred to locally as SMS AIR (Indonesian for ‘WATER SMS’), the first two pilot installations of the system were developed in Makassar and Malang by and for the many stakeholders in urban water governance: utility customers, poor residents without service, utilities and other water service providers, local government agencies, NGOs, and media. The system will assist each one of these groups in improving water services by opening up transparent channels of communication so that residents, utilities, and everyone else involved are better and more quickly informed. The system will also provide functionality for users to collect data more easily, such as seasonal surveys of dry wells or anonymous reports of corruption, and display it online in maps and data reports that can be used for planning, advocacy, or participatory budgeting. The system will later be released by the Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics as an open-source platform.   


Read more about WASH SMS.

Read Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics’ analysis of mobile phone technology solutions:
mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector


For more information please contact WASH SMS Program Manager and Senior Research Associate Misha T. Hutchings at mhutchings (at) or 510.250.2534.

Report from Circle of Blue   

circle of blue Circle 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.

On the frontlines with Circle of Blue - Choke Point: India report coming in May


Photo: J. Carl Ganter

This month Circle of Blue begins publishing the series, Choke Point: India, which assesses the consequences of the contest between water, energy, and food on India’s environment, economy, and public policy. The project is produced in partnership with the Wilson Center and support from Skoll Global Threats Fund. J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue’s director, served as a discussion leader for the World Economic Forum Central Asia meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan in April and participated in the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, which focused on new models for social entrepreneurship, new media and innovation.

Visit Circle of Blue at

In Brief   


Pacific Institute Attends Salton Sea Roundtable Workshop    

Senior Research Associate Michael Cohen participated in a Salton Sea Roundtable Workshop at the north shore of the Salton Sea, hosted by Rep. Raul Ruiz and Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, to discuss potential paths forward for the Salton Sea.


Mr. Cohen also wrote an op-ed on the import-export plan for the Salton Sea that was published in Desert Sun. Excerpt below:


Last Friday’s Salton Sea meeting brought much-needed federal leadership to the Salton Sea. Rep. Raul Ruiz and Assistant Interior Secretary Anne Castle demonstrated a welcome commitment to finding reasonable solutions for the Salton Sea, giving fresh hope that we may – finally – be entering an era of progress for the Salton Sea.

Unfortunately, the meeting also saw the return of the dead but apparently irresistible idea of pumping water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea and pumping sea water back to the gulf – known as the import/export plan. This zombie restoration plan needs to be finished once and for all. (continue reading)


 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. Juliet Christian-Smith, Senior Research Associate:

- participated in the Agricultural Stakeholder Committee meeting in Sacramento, California. The committee was formed to review technical material and documents and to provide comments, data, and supporting information to DWR in implementing provisions of the Water Conservation Act of 2009 (SB X7-7).

- participated in a panel at the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply about the Agricultural Water Management Council’s dissolution.

Heather Cooley
, Water Program Co-Director

- presented at the California Water Policy Conference in Los Angeles, California. Her presentation focused on opportunities for water/energy programs. 

- participated in the Urban Stakeholder Committee meeting in Los Angeles, California. The committee was formed to review technical material and documents and to provide comments, data, and supporting information to DWR in implementing provisions of the Water Conservation Act of 2009 (SB X7-7).
- was a panelist at the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Spring conference in Sacramento, California. The panel focused on water conservation rates.

Catalina Garzón, Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program Director:
- presented on “Engaging Climate Action Coalitions and Vulnerable Communities in Adaptation Planning: A Case Study of Oakland, CA” as part of a panel session on Innovative Engagement for Coastal Climate Change Adaptation Planning at the inaugural National Adaptation Forum in Denver, Colorado. The forum brought together over 500 adaptation planning leaders and researchers from national, state, regional, and local agencies around the country to exchange strategies for advancing cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder adaptation initiatives.
- presented on a panel on “Transportation Justice = Equity in Transportation Planning” sponsored by the College of Environmental Design’s Students of Color Group at UC Berkeley.
- interviewed with Michelle Chan, host of KPFA’s radio show Terra Verde about efforts underway to build community resilience to climate change in Oakland, California.

Peter Gleick, President:

- presented an overview of water and energy at the National Academy of Science meeting on Water and Energy.
- gave a keynote talk at Yale University: “Peak Water Solutions in a Changing Climate.”
- taped an interview with Current TV “Viewpoint” on Water Wars in the US.
- gave a talk at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS) on “Peak
Water Implications for International Security” in Monterey, California.

- participated on the keynote panel on Western water put on by CERES.


Jason Morrison, Corporate Sustainability Program Director:

- attended the UN Global Compact’s 11th Annual Local Networks Forum where he participated in a session focusing on the emergence of corporate water stewardship as a response strategy to water risk. The session covered the CEO Water Mandate‘s various efforts to advance corporate water stewardship, highlighting the initiative’s Water Action Hub, an enabling platform geared toward helping companies efficiently find other stakeholders interested in working collectively to address shared water challenges. One goal of the session, which was attended by dozens of Global Compact country network “focal points,” was to raise awareness and expand the reach of the Mandate’s work to more of the 7,000-plus member companies within the Global Compact.

Upcoming Events


- President Peter Gleick will be testifying on the economic costs of sea-level rise for California at the first hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on Sea-Level Rise and the California Economy. The hearing is in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 15th from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm in State Capitol Room 444. This will be the first of four anticipated hearings of the Select Committee. 


- On Friday June 21st from 9 am- 5 pm at its offices in Oakland, Calif., the Pacific Institute is hosting a Training of Trainers on Popular Education Tools for Community Health with the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative (DDD). The all-day training will share the popular education tools and activities in our Gearing Up for Action curriculum guide developed in partnership with DDD member organizations that can be used engage residents in learning about the health impacts of diesel trucks and trains, better understand who makes land use and transportation decisions, and generate community solutions to plan healthier communities. For more information, or if you are a community health educator, organizer, or outreach worker who is interested in participating in the training, please contact Ariana de Lena, Popular Education Associate, at adelena (at)

In the News

The Press Enterprise’s Janet Zimmerman wrote about our Are You a Climate Change Survivor? activity workbook released in April. Read the article here.

Neela Banerjee from The Los Angeles Times interviewed Peter Gleick to talk about the influence of climate change on temperate areas. Read more.

Senior Research Associate Michael Cohen spoke with The Desert Sun‘s Ian James on federal involvement on the Salton Sea. Read the article here.

Andrew Herndon of Bloomberg covered the recently released report Key Issues for Seawater Desalination in California: Energy and Greenhouse Gases Emissions, quoting lead author Heather Cooley. Read the article here.


Quick Links   

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