Blog

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.

  • residential-water-use-map

    New Data Show Residential Per Capita Water Use across California

    By Matthew Heberger, Senior Research Associate

    November 18, 2014

    New monthly water use data for California water utilities shows that residential water use varies widely around the state, and that the response to the drought has been uneven. Moreover, in some areas, residential use averages more than 500 gallons per person per day, indicating that we could be doing much more to save water.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • US-GDP-and-Water-to-2010

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: Peak Water: United States Water Use Drops to Lowest Level in 40 Years

    by Peter Gleick, President

    November 5, 2014

    The most important trend in the use of water is the slowly unfolding story of peak water in the United States and elsewhere. Data on US water use are compiled every five years by the US Geological Survey, covering every state and every sector of the economy. The latest data – for 2010 – have just been released, and they show the continuation and acceleration of a stunning trend: US water withdrawals, for all purposes, are declining, not growing.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • An East Bay Municipal Water District Facility

    Huffington Post: The California Water Bond is a Beginning, Not an End: Here’s What’s Next

    by Peter Gleick, Kristina Donnelly, and Heather Cooley

    November 5, 2014 

    California voters have approved Proposition 1 – the 2014 California Water Bond. The ultimate value and effectiveness of the bond will depend on how it is implemented and how the funds are spent. Here are some key issues to watch, things to understand about the new water bond, and recommendations:

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • insights-into-prop-1-cover

    Huffington Post: What Does Proposition 1 — the 2014 California Water Bond — Really Say?

    by Peter Gleick, President

    October 23, 2014 

    On November 4, California voters will decide the fate of Proposition 1 — the 2014 Water Bond — which authorizes the sale of $7.12 billion in new general obligation bonds and the reallocation of an additional $425 million of previously authorized, but unissued, bonds.

    Do you live in California and are you trying to figure out how to vote on Proposition 1? Today the Pacific Institute has released a comprehensive assessment of Prop 1. The Institute is neutral: We are taking no formal position, choosing instead to try to offer the voting public some insights into the complexities of the bond. If passed by the voters, Proposition 1 would be the fourth-largest water bond in California history, funding a wide range of water-related actions and infrastructure. The total cost of Proposition 1, including interest, will exceed $14 billion over 30 years.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • 2014-10-18-Westlandsgwuseduringdrought

    Huffington Post: When Our Responses to Drought Make Things Worse

    by Peter Gleick, President

    October 18, 2014
     

    In a new study just published by the journal Sustainability Science (Springer), analysis from the Pacific Institute shows that many of the fundamental responses of California water users to severe drought actually make the state’s overall water conditions worse — that in the end, many of these actions are “maladaptations.”

    Water is a complex resource; and water problems are an equally complex mix of natural resource, technology, social, economic and political conditions. When water is limited, such as in water-short areas or during extreme events such as droughts, society puts in place a variety of responses. The Institute evaluated the major responses to water scarcity during multi-year droughts — in particular the recent 2007-2009 drought — by the energy and agricultural sectors. (A follow-up analysis of the current drought is in preparation.)

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • ebola-blog

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: An Open Memo on Ebola and Water

    by Peter Gleick, President

    October 13, 2014

    As input to the ongoing discussions about how to meet and overcome the spreading risks of Ebola, here are some summary thoughts about the water-related components of U.S. efforts. Specifics about the operations and effectiveness of water treatment or supply technologies, or the medical and health implications of their use must be verified by the designers/makers of the technology along with medical experts from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), West African health and water officials, and related institutions.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • discloure-guidelines-chart

    The Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines – A common and meaningful way for companies to track and communicate their water performance, risks, and impacts

    by Peter Schulte, Research Associate

    October 7, 2014

    The Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines are available as a PDF report and web-based tool.

    disclosure-guidelines-cover-2014This week, the CEO Water Mandate launched its finalized Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines – a common approach for companies to effectively and intelligibly disclose the many elements of their corporate water management practice to key stakeholders. The Guidelines present an important step in corporate water stewardship that can help companies communicate with their stakeholders, and better understand themselves in the process. Here are a few (of many!) ways in which the Guidelines can benefit a company.

    Demonstrating good practice

    By providing meaningful quantitative metrics and qualitative approaches that describe corporate water practice, the Guidelines help companies demonstrate good performance and reduced risks and impacts to investors, consumers, communities, suppliers, their own employees, and others. This is particularly important as, in the past, many companies have used water-related metrics that are at best of only limited use, and at worse quite misleading! For example, traditional globally-aggregated water use metrics inherently hide and undervalue the local nature of water resource challenges. Perhaps a company’s global water use has decreased, but has it decreased in the places that are facing the most urgent water shortages?

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • Aral-Sea-1977

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The Death of the Aral Sea

    by Peter Gleick, President

    September 26, 2014

    In the 20th century, society was either ignorant of, or ignored, the consequences of bad water management. The goal was economic development at all costs. Over the past few decades, we’ve learned about the ecological and social implications of the misuse of water, and some efforts have been made to protect natural ecosystems, restore a modicum of flows, bring local communities into the discussion about water policy and infrastructure. These are steps in the right direction.

    But sometimes our failures have been monumental — and uncorrected.

    Perhaps the best, or worst, example, is the complete destruction of the Aral Sea. Once one of the four largest lakes in the world by surface area, fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, it has now been destroyed by the complete diversion of inflows to grow crops — largely cotton — in the arid regions of  Uzbekistan (with parts of the watershed of the Sea in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan).

    All 24 species of fish endemic to the Aral Sea are now extinct. Dust storms spread respiratory diseases. And the local climate has been altered.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • featured-image-9-19

    Huffington Post: Our Disappearing Snows: Climate Change and Water Resources

    by Peter Gleick, President

    September 19, 2014
     

    As the Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, the global water cycle has begun to change. In particular, our snows have begun to disappear. The implications for the water systems we’ve built and operate are vast and pervasive. And despite decades of research, observations, and outreach to water managers, we’re not ready.

    Nearly three decades ago, as a young graduate student at the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, I published initial results from the core of my doctoral dissertation to integrate regional hydrologic models with output from the three major general circulation models of the climate in operation in the United States. Those models — the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) model under the direction of Dr. James Hansen, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Model (GFDL) under the direction of Dr. Syukoro Manabe, and the model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under the direction of Dr. Warren Washington — were still too coarse in spatial resolution to provide much detailed information on the effects of climate changes on regional and local water resources.

    My modeling produced some disturbing results with implications for the future of water resources availability and management in the western United States and regions around the world dependent on snowfall and snowmelt hydrology: global climate changes and especially the rising global temperatures would have dramatic impacts on the timing of water flows in rivers and the extent and duration of mountain snowpack. In 1985 at a conference on arid lands in Tucson, Arizona, I published the following:

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • water-filters-for-faucet_16602_600x450

    Response to Washington Post Article “Water Utilities Charge More to Offset Low-Flow Toilets, Faucets and Shower Heads”

    by Heather Cooley, Water Program Director

    August 20, 2014

    A recent Washington Post article erroneously stated: “Federally mandated low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets are taking a financial toll on the nation’s water utilities, leaving customers to make up the shortfall with higher water rates and new fees that have left many paying more for less.” The article tackles an important topic, albeit one that is all too commonly misunderstood. Two key facts are frequently missing from these discussions:

    • Fact #1: Water Conservation and Efficiency Reduce Long-Term Costs

    Most areas have already developed the least expensive water supplies, and the next increment of supply is considerably more expensive. Water conservation and efficiency improvements are the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable “new supply.” Moreover, efficiency improvements save energy, reduce water and wastewater treatment costs, and eliminate the need for costly new infrastructure. This saves the customer money in the long term.

    When it comes to looking at the relationship between the cost of water and conservation, the key question is “how much would we be paying for water if we had not conserved?” A recent study by the City of Westminster, Colorado tackled this question, and their answer is compelling. In 1980, the City’s per capita water use was 180 gallons per person per day (gpcd); conservation programs, progressive pricing policies, and national plumbing codes reduced per capita demand to 149 gpcd in 2010. If water use had stayed at 1980 levels, staff estimated that the City would have had to secure 7,300 acre-feet of additional water supply, requiring $591 million in new infrastructure costs and $1.2 million per year in operating costs. They estimated that, without conservation, the average single-family customer would pay combined water and wastewater rates that are more than 90% higher than they are today.

    …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »