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July 2012 Online Update 
 

 

Celebrating 25 Years

 

Looking back:  From mining raw materials to cooling power plants to disposing of waste and more, water is used in every part of our nation’s energy system. But limits to the availability of both resources affect one another, and there is increasing recognition of the the need for policies, practices, and planning that lead to a sustainable water-energy nexus. The Pacific Institute has been at the forefront of research to help policy makers and utility managers think about water use when making decisions about energy issues — from our 2004 report Energy Down the Drain and last year’s Water for Energy to tools for water managers like our Water-to-Air Models and WECalc – Your Water-Energy-Climate Calculator. With the growing concerns around hydraulic fracturing, the Institute has released a new report highlighting the key water-related risks associated with the processes (see lead story below). With the importance and interconnectivity between water and energy, we continue to push to develop sound policies to minimize environmental, economic, and health risks, realizing the sustainability for our future depends on it.  

New Report Separates the Frack from Fiction  

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Much of the controversy over hydraulic fracturing has centered on the use of chemicals in the fracturing fluids and the risk of groundwater contamination. But the Pacific Institute’s
new report finds that while chemical disclosure can be useful for tracking contamination, there are other serious issues that must be addressed. The massive water requirements for fracking and the potential conflicts with other water needs, including for agriculture and for ecosystems, pose major challenges, as do methane contamination of drinking water and the storing, transporting, treating, and disposing of wastewater.

The report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction finds the concerns around fracking’s impacts on water are shared by stakeholders from government to industry to environmental groups – and point to the need for better and more transparent information in order to clearly assess the key water-related risks and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.

 

The Sacramento Bee ran an Op Ed about the research on hydraulic fracturing by Pacific Institute Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley, who wrote, “Unfortunately, like many political debates these days, the dialogue about fracking has been marked by ideology, confusion, narrow perspectives and obfuscation…Fracking may offer great promise, but it is absolutely irresponsible to rush into a major expansion without giving serious consideration to the social, economic, and environmental risks, and the careful development of appropriate oversight and policies to minimize those risks.”

 

The new report provides a detailed assessment and synthesis of existing research on fracking as well as the results of interviews with representatives from state and federal agencies, industry, academia, environmental groups, and community-based organizations from across the United States. Interviewees identified a broad set of social, economic, and environmental concerns, foremost among which are impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the availability and quality of water resources.

 

Read more.
Read the
full report.
Read the
Executive Summary.
Read Heather Cooley’s Op Ed in the Sacramento Bee.

 

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“The work the Pacific Institute has produced . . . is crucial in providing valuable research and policy guidance. . . I believe we need to support organizations like the Pacific Institute that consider the broad implications of policies on communities such as ours, and then make their results understandable to us, to policymakers, to stakeholders, and to the public.”


Alex Valdez, former Mayor of Mendota, Calif., Executive Director of I-5 Social Services Corporation  

Water Agency Staff and Board Members! Remember to
Participate in our
Water Supplier Survey on Rates and Finances
!

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The Pacific Institute is conducting the Water Supplier Survey: Rates and Finances for California to better understand how water is priced by its more than a thousand different water providers, both municipal and private. All responses will remain anonymous. Participants will receive a copy of the full aggregate survey results and will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire.

Access the survey here.


Sign up for our September Water Rates Workshops for Water Agencies and Boards

Multimedia

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Globalization Program Director Jason Morrison at Rio +20 discusses reaching sustainability objectives through collective action through the Water Action Hub.
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President Peter Gleick gives the keynote address on New Water Thinking for the 21st Century at Connecticut College.

 

 

CEO Water Mandate Business Leaders Tell Governments “Make Water Sustainability a Priority” at Rio+20


The CEO Water Mandate convened numerous multi-stakeholder sessions June 16-18 in Brazil as part of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, which was held as a side event of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Earth Summit). These sessions sought to showcase and advance the Mandate’s major workstreams, focusing particularly on the initiative’s work on water-related collective action; corporate water disclosure; and water, business, and human rights. The Forum was attended by more than 2,500 delegates representing business, finance, government, civil society, academia, and other interests. Fifteen hundred of these representatives were from the private sector, making it the largest business delegation to ever attend a UN Summit.

 

Also, during Rio+20, the CEOs of 45 CEO Water Mandate endorsing companies issued a special Communiqué that highlights the urgency of the global water crisis, calling on the heads of state attending the Earth Summit to prioritize water sustainability and to work more actively with the private sector in addressing water challenges. The CEOs outline a range of public policy actions they believe governments could undertake to make meaningful progress on water and to better leverage the resources and capabilities of the international business community, including:

  • Developing policies and incentives to improve water productivity and efficiency in all sectors, especially agriculture.
  • Establishing fair and appropriate valuation of water for agriculture, industry, and people — while at the same time ensuring water and sanitation access in accord with the UN human right to safe water and sanitation.
  • Increasing investment in infrastructure and developing policies to accelerate progress on access to, and ensuring efficient and reliable delivery of, water and sanitation services.
  • Sharing policies, innovations, and tools among governments and other stakeholders in order to scale up good practice and to improve general efficacy over time.
  • Working more actively with the business community, private finance, and civil society.  

Read more.

Read the Communiqué.

Read the list of public policy actions recommended in the Communiqué.

Pacific Institute Receives “Best Poster” for WASH SMS Poster Presentation   
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Research Associate Misha Hutchings accepts award from Darryl Day, a member of the International Water Association’s (IWA) Strategic Council.

A Pacific Institute poster presentation about the participatory development of the WASH SMS system won best poster in the “Cities of the Future” convention theme area for Singapore International Water Week 2012. The theme “Cities of the Future” in part focuses on the need for an integrated and sustainable approach to water management from the various stakeholder groups to address water issues resulting from climate change, climate variability, and rapid urbanization. International Water and Communities Initiative Research Associate Misha Hutchings and Director Meena Palaniappan submitted the poster, titled
WASH SMS: Facilitating Information Transparency and Community-Based Advocacy for Urban WASH Services through Participatory Development of a Mobile Phone-to-Web System. The poster illustrated how stakeholder involvement in participatory system design has fostered relationships among the involved groups, which will also help support future communication through the system. More than 170 poster presentations were selected for inclusion in this year’s conference, with winners selected based on reviews by a panel of judges, as well as votes cast by convention delegates.
Read more about the WASH SMS project.
View the Winning Poster on WASH SMS.

 

How Global Change Science Can Contribute to a Sustainable Future

AWS BAnner In an article published in the June edition of the journal BioScience, Planetary Opportunities: A Social Contract for Global Change Science to Contribute to a Sustainable Future, the authors, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick included, reason that the global change research community needs to renew its social contract with society — by moving beyond a focus on biophysical limits and toward solution-oriented research to provide realistic, context-specific pathways to a sustainable future. A focus on planetary opportunities is based on the premise that societies adapt to change and have historically implemented solutions — for example, to protect watersheds, improve food security, and reduce harmful atmospheric emissions.


The authors, among whom is the late Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences winner Elinor Ostrom, conclude that a sustainable future is achievable if the current social and biological challenges are addressed at multiple scales of governance. The global change science community must focus its work to build a framework of solutions that engages the synergies and tradeoffs between human and biophysical systems
that will ultimately determine the success of our species and our planet’s ecological heritage.

 

Read the BioScience article.

 

Pacific Institute Affiliate Circle of Blue Receives Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award

  

rockefeller_foundation_COB_award.jpgJ. Carl Ganter, director and co-founder of Circle of Blue, a team of leading journalists and researchers that reports on water and resource issues globally, received the Rockefeller Centennial Innovation Award.

 

With an intense focus on freshwater and its relationships to food, energy, climate, and health, Circle of Blue has created a breakthrough model of front-line reporting, data collection, design, and convening. It is cited across grassroots networks, research journals, mainstream and niche media, consultancies, risk analysis reports, ministerial meetings, and high-level scenario sessions.

“Innovation occurs when problems and potential solutions are reframed, re-imagined, or recombined in new ways to achieve a transformational product, process, or service,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Circle of Blue is an integral part of the global network of innovators that is restructuring and re-organizing social systems to yield better solutions and create stronger, more resilient societies.”


The Pacific Institute extends heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Ganter and Circle of Blue, and is proud to be associated with them.

 

Read more.
Read about Circle of Blue.

Subscribe to the Circle of Blue Weekly Water Newsletter.

 

 

Pacific Institute Welcomes Summer Interns   

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Caroline Hodge (left) and Melia Ungson.

 

The Pacific Institute welcomes five summer interns who are working on a variety of research projects in our three programs.

Kaitlin Toyama, Genora Givens, and Daryl Ford are this year’s Diversity for Sustainability Interns, a program that is part of the Pacific Institute’s commitment to furthering diverse perspectives both in our own work and in the critical fields of environmental sustainability and social justice. Ms. Toyama recently graduated from Occidental University with a degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and is working on a water rates project with Senior Research Associate Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith. Ms. Givens is a junior at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and double minoring in Politics and American Ethnic Studies. She is working with our Community
Strategies for Sustainability and Justice (CSSJ) Program.
  
 

Left to right: Kaitlin Toyama, Genora Givens, and Daryl Ford are the Institute’s second Diversity for Sustainability Intern class.

 

Ms. Ford attends Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. and is working on her Environmental Science degree with a minor in English. She is also involved in projects with the CSSJ program.

Caroline Hodge joins the Water Program as our second annual Stanford and Government Fellow. She is majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies with a minor in Psychology. Melia Ungson, who is working with the Institute’s Globalization program, attends Yale University, and is studying Global Affairs with an emphasis in Development.

In Brief

Pacific Institute’s Jason Morrison Presents CEO Water Mandate’s Work at UN-Water Rio +20

 In his capacity as the technical director of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, Jason Morrison served on a discussion panel at a UN-Water-organized side event at Rio +20. With the session focusing on global commitments toward universal access to water and sanitation, Mr. Morrison profiled the relevant elements of the Mandate’s Rio+20 Communiqué which highlighted the urgency of the global water crisis and called on governments to step up their efforts and collaborative action. He also discussed the potential for the Mandate’s forthcoming Water Action Hub to serve as an enabling platform that allows for on-the-ground collective action toward universal access to water.

 


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:
– spoke on our Climate Change adaptation work at an event held by the City of Oakland.

Peter Gleick, President:
– facilitated a discussion at the Water Leaders Summit on water policy and planning in Singapore.
– attended a meeting at the International Advisory Panel of the Institution of Water at the National University of Singapore.

In the News 

  

Craig Miller spoke with Senior Research Associate Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith for KQED’s Water and Energy series on hydropower generation and its environmental impacts. Read the full article here.

Dr. Christian-Smith also spoke with Molly Samuel from KQED to discuss the California water bond being postponed from this year’s ballot. Read the full article here.

 

The Bakersfield Californian covered our latest report on hydraulic fracturing focusing on the water use associated with the controversial process. Read it here


Shared concerns about fracking between environmentalists and farmers are discussed in a Reuters article which highlights key conclusions from our latest report. Read the Reuters article


The Christian Science Monitor’s Pete Spotts spoke with Water Program Co-Director Heather Cooley about the latest research on sea-level rise impacts on the West Coast expected to occur by 2100. Read it here.

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