Online Updates: September 2010 Online Update



New Report Recommends Steps to Save a Million
Acre-Feet of Water

A new analysis from the Pacific Institute recommends
Next Million Acre-Feet Cover Report Picturespecific actions that can save a million acre-feet of water per year quickly
and at a lower economic and
ecological cost than developing new supplies. The assessment notes that new
actions are immediately needed to address California’s persistent water supply
challenges — but it makes the most sense to do the most effective things first.
The report, California’s Next Million Acre-Feet: Saving Water, Energy, and Money, quantifies
more than one million acre-feet of water that can be conserved through improved
efficiency, with savings coming from the urban and industrial sectors and
improvements in agriculture.

What do the water conservation and efficiency measures in the California’s Next Million
report look like? A million acre-feet is nearly 12 times the city of San Francisco’s annual water use and almost three times the amount of water that would be yielded annually
by the proposed Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir combined.

“There is vast untapped potential to reduce our demand for water without affecting the services and benefits that water
provides,” said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute’s Water
Program and lead author of the report. “Our analysis strongly recommends that water
conservation and efficiency be a central component of any portfolio of
solutions for the state’s water problems, and it offers specific strategies to
help finance and implement them.”

Read more

Interest in Farm Water Success Stories Grows

Farm Water Success Stories Report CoverThe Pacific Institute’s work on
agricultural water conservation and efficiency is making an impact, and new
funding will support expanded work on the California Farm Water Success Stories
Project for another two years. The Institute’s March 2010 report, California Farm Water Success Stories, analyzed examples of sustainable farm water policies and practices to demonstrate how members of the agricultural community are moving California toward more equitable and efficient water management and use. More than 17,000 copies of the report have been downloaded since its release and the accompanying video, also available on the website and widely downloaded, has been requested numerous times by irrigation districts and other agricultural organizations.

The Pacific Institute will continue
highlighting the work of innovative growers and irrigation districts, working
with Sustainable Conservation, California Alliance with Family Farmers, and
Cooperative Extension to identify additional success stories and to promote
farmer-to-farmer education. These success stories will be featured in a
dynamic, online catalog available as a resource to farmers and the public.

If you are interested in recommending a California farm water success story to the
Institute or would like more information on this project, please contact Juliet Christian-Smith.

Pacific Institute Spearheads Launch of CEO Water
Mandate’s Water Disclosure Working Group

In its capacity as operational arm of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, the Pacific
Institute spearheaded the September launch of the initiative’s Water Disclosure
Working Group (WDWG). The working group will serve as the vehicle for Mandate
endorsing companies and key stakeholders to help steer the Mandate’s efforts to
drive more meaningful and harmonized corporate water reporting. These efforts
will include the development of guidance to improve qualitative water reporting
and help companies better understand relevant water information to disclose. The WDWG will also help the Secretariat
advance strategies that drive harmonization and convergence among existing and
emerging corporate water-disclosure-related initiatives. The ultimate goal of
the WDWG is to help ensure that the Mandate’s activities on this topic are
credible and add maximum value to companies, their stakeholders, disclosure
initiatives, and other key partners and interests.

Read more about the Pacific Institute’s work with the CEO Water Mandate.

Community Strategies Program Carries Out GIS Reproduction of Redlining Maps

GIS Redlining Map of Albany, NY
GIS Map of Albany


The Pacific Institute’s Community
Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program has produced digital GIS maps
of federal redlining maps from the 1930s for the lead investigator of the
Redlining Map Digitization Project, Dr. Kishi Animashaun Ducre of the
Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University. The Institute
uses GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a tool for digitally mapping and
analyzing spatial patterns, in its work on climate change, air quality, and
other areas. The GIS versions of the redlining maps will allow researchers to
begin empirically exploring various questions, such as the maps’ impact on
racial residential segregation, neighborhood decline and disinvestment, and
environmental injustice.

Redlining, now a common term for
discriminatory lending policies, originated with maps of “residential security
areas” produced in the late 1930s for the federal Home Owners Loan Corporation
(HOLC) in over 200 American cities. While many acknowledge the significance of
the HOLC maps in shaping urban policy and development, there has been little
empirical work relating to those maps, and none of that work has been done on a
systemic scale. Almost all the maps had been stored at the National Archives
until recently, when professors at Syracuse University unearthed them as part
of an effort to increase public access to the maps. For more information on
this project and the Institute’s GIS work, contact Eli Moore.

In Brief

-Salton Sea Governance Bill Passes Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature
On August 31, California’s Assembly voted 41-21 to approve Senate Bill 51, the bill to establish a Salton Sea
Restoration Council. Later that evening, California’s Senate voted 26-4 for
final passage, sending SB 51 to the governor for his signature. The Salton Sea
Restoration Council bill will establish a governance structure for Salton Sea
restoration and revitalize the state’s moribund efforts, a move the Pacific Institute
has long advocated. The council will create a dedicated forum for developing a
restoration plan for the Salton Sea, bringing transparency and collaboration to
a process that has stalled in Sacramento.
Read more about the Salton Sea.

-Reclamation Announces Laguna Restoration Project Expansion

Michael Cohen, senior research associate, attended a project update meeting for the
Laguna Division Conservation Area, a large restoration project along the lower
Colorado River first proposed and promoted by the Pacific Institute. At the
meeting, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that the Laguna restoration
project has been expanded to 1222 acres, making it one of the largest
restoration projects along the lower Colorado River, and the first Multi-Species
Conservation Program (MSCP) project to restore native riparian habitat along
the channel of the Colorado River itself. The project will clear the dense,
monotypic stands of invasive saltcedar that currently choke the reach of the
river between the Imperial and Laguna dams and replace them with 426 acres of
cottonwoods and willows, 409 acres of mesquite, 97 acres of deep marsh, 71
acres of open water, and 174 acres of transitional vegetation (such as
saltgrass). Read more about the
Colorado River and the Laguna Reach.

-Community Strategies Program at Statewide Convening on Freight Transport and Community

Catalina Garzon, co-director of the Community
Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program, participated in a Statewide Convening on Freight Transport
and Community Health on August 4-5 in Sacramento, Calif. The statewide
convening, sponsored by The California Endowment, brought together community
groups, coalitions, and allied organizations across the state to exchange
strategies in advancing their work on freight transport and community health
issues. Representatives from participating organizations met with Secretary
Dale Bonner, head of California’s Business, Housing and Transportation Agency,
and Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, to discuss
transportation and air quality issues. Read more about Freight Transport Justice.

-Heather Cooley,
co-director of the Water Program, gave a lecture on August 2 on the impacts of
sea-level rise to planning students in a summer program at the UC Berkeley
School of Environmental Design. Later that month, she gave a presentation in
San Francisco titled “Energy Perspectives on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta”
to members of the Alliance for Women in Water, Energy, and the Environment.
Also in August, Ms. Cooley attended an Urban Stakeholder Committee meeting in
Sacramento to discuss implementation of SBx7-7 (California’s bill to reduce
urban per capita water demand by 20% by 2020).

-Peter Gleick, president, and Juliet Christian-Smith, senior research associate, met in
Sacramento with California State AssemblymemberJared Huffman and State
Senator Lois Wolk on August 16 to discuss the next steps in
California water policy.

Pacific Institute in the News

 - Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick
was interviewed on KPFK Los Angeles’ The Michael Slate Show on August 6. During the interview, Dr. Gleick discussed
his new book Bottled and Sold – The Story Behind Our Obsession With Bottled Water.
Listen to the interview here.  He also spoke with Cy Musiker on KQED Radio
on August 10 to discuss what’s next for California’s water policy future after
the water bond postponement. Listen to the interview here.

Hosts Jane McMillan and Ed Cavagnaro from the KCBS radio show In Depth interviewed
Dr. Gleick on August 22, discussing the California water bond, state and
federal spending on California’s current water issues, and rising sea levels.
Listen to the interview here.

- Juliet Christian-Smith spoke with the National Radio Project show Making Contact, discussing
increasing water scarcity and potential changes in California’s agriculture
industry in the coming decades. Listen to the interview here.