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Pacific Institute Insights is the staff blog of the Pacific Institute, one of the world’s leading nonprofit research groups on sustainable and equitable management of natural resources. For more about what we do, click here.

  • Impacts-CAdrought-AG-cover

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: Impacts of the California Drought: Agriculture

    By Peter Gleick, President and Heather Cooley, Water Program Director

    August 26, 2015

    California is in a severe drought – four years long now. But what does the drought really mean for the things we care about: food production, fisheries, industrial activities, rural communities? As part of the work of the Pacific Institute to evaluate both the impacts of water problems and identify smart solutions, we’ve just released the first comprehensive assessment of the actual impacts of the drought for California agriculture.

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  • Huffington Post: The New UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Fresh Water

    By Peter Gleick, President

    August 12, 2015

    For 15 years, the world community has worked to achieve a comprehensive set of goals and targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – launched in 2000 to tackle poverty, economic and environment inequity, and strategies for effective development. The MDGs concluded this year, and a new set of goals to replace them have been in design and negotiation for some time. These new objectives – now called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are now final, offering global priorities for sustainable development beyond 2015. Figure 1 lists the 17 overarching SDGs. Each one is accompanied by specific targets and measured by specific indicators. Individual governments will be responsible for setting their own specific national targets based on their own priorities and circumstances.

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    New Data Show California Cities’ Progress towards State-Mandated Conservation Requirements

    by Kristina Donnelly, Research Associate

    August 4, 2015

    In response to the Executive Order Governor Brown issued in April, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring 25% savings in urban water use across the state, with a goal of saving 1.2 million acre-feet over a nine-month period. Each water supplier serving more than 3,000 connections was given a conservation standard based on how high their residential use was in the summer of 2013; those with higher use (in gallons per capita per day, or gpcd) were required to save more (as a percentage of overall use) and those with lower gpcd were required to save less. Water suppliers have been working to reduce water use through drought surcharges, mandatory restrictions, rebates, education campaigns, and more.

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  • California-toilet-savings-400x289

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: Down the Drain: The Power and Potential of Improving Water Efficiency

    By Peter Gleick, President and Heather Cooley, Water Program Director

    July 9, 2015

    Debates about water in California, the western U.S., and indeed, worldwide, have traditionally focused on the question of how best to further expand water supply to meet some hypothetical future increase in water demand. And the solution frequently offered is to build massive new infrastructure in the form of dams and reservoirs, drill more groundwater wells, or expand water diversions from ever-more-distant rivers, in order to “grow” the supply available for human use.

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    Huffington Post: Laudato Si’ and Water: The Vatican’s Encyclical Letter and Global Water Challenges

    By Peter Gleick, President

    June 18, 2015

    The official text of the much-anticipated Vatican’s Encyclical Letter, “Laudato Si’” was released today. While considerable attention is being devoted to the sections of Pope Francis’s new Encyclical related to the threats of climate change, the letter also tackles many other environmental challenges, including biodiversity, food, and especially the critical issue of freshwater. Woven throughout is attention to the social and equity dimensions of these challenges and a deep concern for the poor.

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  • Israeli-crop-mix-400x294

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The Future of Desalination in California is Still in the Future: California, Israel, and Australia

    By Peter Gleick, President

    June 10, 2015

    It’s only natural that during a crisis we look to single, “silver bullet” technical solutions, after all, they are supposed to be effective against werewolves, witches, and other monsters. For monsters like the ongoing severe California drought, the current favorite silver bullet is seawater desalination.  And why not? California sits at the edge of the largest body of salt water in the world – the Pacific Ocean – and taking salt out of water is a successful, commercial, well-understood technology.

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  • almonds

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The California Drought: Almonds and the Bigger Picture

    By Peter Gleick, President

    May 28, 2015

    California is a wonderful place to grow food. The climate is highly favorable; soils are some of the best in the world, it is located well to serve global distribution markets with major ports and other transportation infrastructure; and normally, some regions are relatively well-watered.

    Normally.

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  • ag-revised

    Huffington Post: Where Does California’s Agricultural Water Go?

    By Peter Gleick, President

    April 29, 2015

    Water plays a vital role in California’s agricultural sector, using 80% of the water used by humans in the state. In recent months, water challenges imposed by the current severe drought have brought this agricultural water use into the limelight, raising new questions about how the water is used. A new “Need to Know” brief authored by Heather Cooley and the Pacific Institute, provides essential background information on the state’s agricultural water use: in particular, the brief estimates total water applied for crops grown in California, the water intensity of those crops, and the economic productivity of water.

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  • interactive-map-blog

    New Data Show California Cities’ Response to Drought Is Highly Uneven

    By Matthew Heberger, Senior Research Associate

    March 24, 2015

    As California heads into its fourth consecutive year of drought, and pronouncements about our water supply are increasingly dire, new data released by the state show that water use and water conservation efforts in cities across the state are highly uneven. Since June of 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board has required urban water suppliers to submit monthly reports of water use, in order to help track conservation efforts. As of now, the state has collected 8 months of data from about 400 water suppliers.

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  • hydropower-generation

    National Geographic ScienceBlog: The Impacts of California’s Drought on Hydroelectricity Production

    By Peter Gleick, President

    March 17, 2015

    California’s hottest and driest drought in recorded history has shifted the sources of electricity with adverse economic and environmental consequences. The Pacific Institute has just completed and released a report that evaluates how diminished river flows have resulted in less hydroelectricity, more expensive electricity from the combustion of natural gas, and increased production of greenhouse gas emissions.

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