May 2009 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet  
In This Issue
-Institute Honored
-Ag Water Council
-Gleick’s Blog
-Air Improvement Plan
-Community Leadership Academy

-In Brief

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Interior Secretary Honors Pacific Institute Work
Award for Unprecedented Collaboration to Manage Colorado River Shortage

Michael Cohen, Senior Associate of the Pacific Institute, is one of the recipients of the prestigious “Partners in Conservation Award” presented by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 7, honoring achievement in crafting innovative strategies to manage Colorado River shortages and improve the efficiency of water users.

Rio HardyUncertainty about when shortages in the Colorado River should be declared and how that would affect allocations drove the federal effort to develop clear shortage guidelines. A collaborative of regional and national conservation organizations, including the Pacific Institute, worked together to develop sensible shortage guidelines, known as “Conservation Before Shortage.” The conservation collaborative worked extensively with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to refine and compare the proposal with other alternatives.

Ultimately, Reclamation incorporated several key provisions of Conservation Before Shortage into its final “Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead,” signed by Secretary Kempthorne in 2007.

“The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s painstaking, collaborative efforts to craft a consensus shortage strategy generated tremendous good will and directly led to the biggest and most forward-thinking changes to river management in generations,” said Michael Cohen at the Boulder, Colorado office of the Pacific Institute. “Unlike previous closed-door negotiations about the river and efforts to exclude environmental and other interests, this new shortage strategy welcomed all those with good and productive ideas; the river is the better for it.”

“We are honored to be a part of the collaborative receiving this award, and are encouraged that Reclamation incorporated some of our suggestions,” said Cohen. “We look forward to working with Reclamation and other stakeholders to build upon the solid foundation created by the shortage guidelines to overcome the many formidable challenges still facing the river, including restoration of the Colorado River delta and resolution of the question of shortages for Mexico.”

Pacific Institute Joins the California Agricultural Water Management Council
Institute Works with Agricultural Community to Improve Water Use Efficiency

awmcLast month the Pacific Institute was accepted as the newest voting member of the California Agricultural Water Management Council-the main conduit for agricultural water efficiency policies and funding processes in the state.

The Council, whose voting members now consist of 65 individuals from irrigation districts and four representing environmental interests, is where specific efficient water management practices are developed by the agricultural community along with independent research groups and environmental groups and then voluntarily implemented.

“We were pleased to be accepted as a new member by a unanimous vote at the last Council meeting and look forward to working with the Council’s current members to revitalize the dialog about solutions to our shared water crisis,” said Juliet Christian-Smith, senior research associate and the Institute’s representative on the Council. “The Pacific Institute will be in the unique position to work to develop approaches to improve the efficiency of water use in the agricultural sector in conjunction with the sector itself.”

Pacific Institute Joins in Protesting the Port of Oakland’s Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan
Plan Lacks Concrete Actions to Protect Health

On April 7, the Pacific Institute joined dozens of community residents, workers, and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Alameda County Department of Public Health in urging Port of Oakland Commissioners not to approve a weak and under-ambitious Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan (MAQIP).

During the plan’s two-year development process, Institute Program Director Swati Prakash has worked to coordinate and prepare community, health, and labor stakeholders for each MAQIP task force meeting to present rigorous, health-protective suggestions to the Port on how to write an effective and powerful air plan.

Despite the urging of federal, state, regional, and local agencies and elected officials to hold out for a more detailed, actionable plan, the Board of Commissioners approved the MAQIP as it was presented.

“The fact that the Port needed two years and a stakeholder group of over 60 people to develop a ‘plan’ that is nothing more than a vision statement is an enormous disappointment and a real missed opportunity to reduce the serious health threats to Bay Area residents and workers created by Port-related air pollution,” said Swati Prakash.

In the News
Swati Prakash and Richard Sinkoff, Port of Oakland Director of Environmental Programs and Planning, debate the merits of the MAQIP, KPFA Terra Verde, 4/17/2009
Editorial: Port of Oakland must get serious about cleaning the air, Oakland Tribune, 4/15/2009
My Word: Port of Oakland commissioners need to show true leadership, Oakland Tribune, 4/20/2009

Community Leadership Academy Graduates First Class of Leaders

Local Residents Train to Advocate to Reduce Impacts of Trucking Operations

CLANine West Oakland residents completed the first Community Leadership Academy training series which provided trainees with the building blocks to become effective community advocates for freight transport justice in West Oakland.

The last two sessions of the Community Leadership Academy (CLA) were developed and facilitated by Pacific Institute Research Associate Catalina Garzon, along with with Athena Applon, Ali Ar Rasheed, Margaret Gordon, and Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP).

At the April sessions, CLA participants deepened their understanding of the private interests and public agencies that make decisions about truck operations at the local, regional, and state levels.  They also explored how to take action to persuade decision-makers to support community solutions to the truck impacts that they experience in their neighborhoods.

The training provided by the CLA will be followed by hands-on learning through internships that engage CLA graduates in WOEIP’s advocacy activities to reduce the impacts of truck operations on community health and quality of life in West Oakland.

Peter Gleick Joins the Blogosphere
“Water by the Numbers” from World-renowned Expert

Peter GleickRead and discuss everything water with internationally renowned expert Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, on his new blog.

Featured on “City Brights,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s luminary blogger site, Gleick explores the water challenges facing California, the West, and our world. Follow along as he discusses the threats to our freshwater resources and viable solutions to those threats, drawing from not only his experiences and viewpoint, but also by way of numbers: each post includes an important, unusual, or newsworthy “water number” that will highlight some piece of the water issue.

From explaining the luxury of a toilet to examining how much we pay for water, the discussion is already tackling some interesting and sometimes controversial issues in how we think about water.

Click to check it out or join the conversation:

In Brief

Institute Honored For Local Environmental Justice Work
AwardOn May 12, the Pacific Institute was honored with an award for our “contributions to the environmental justice movement in Contra Costa County” by the North Richmond Municipal Advisory Committee. North Richmond is an unincorporated area adjacent to several historically toxic industrial facilities, and home to community leaders known regionally and nationally for their leadership in the environmental justice movement.

Morikawa Presents on Business Risks of Water to California College of Arts
On April 30, Pacific Institute Research Associate Mari Morikawa spoke to MBA students at California College of Arts in San Francisco on “Is Water the Next Carbon?,” focusing on global water trends and climate change impacts on water resources and how they affect business. Her presentation-part of the Design MBA program’s course on sustainability-introduced students to emerging concepts such as water footprinting and the links between water and energy. She also discussed the importance of holistic and strategic approaches to water risk management.

Morrison Participates on Water and Energy Conflict Panel
At the annual Ceres conference on April 15 in San Francisco, Jason Morrison, director of the Institute’s Globalization Program, participated on the panel “Fueling our Thirst? The Water and Energy Conflict.” The session examined the issues and highlighted top corporate and investor approaches to reducing risk and capturing opportunities in a water and carbon-constrained world.

Salton Sea Restoration Bill Passes Senate Committee
On April 27, the California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality unanimously passed Senate Bill 51–the Salton Sea Restoration Council bill that would establish a governance structure for Salton Sea restoration and revitalize the state’s moribund efforts, a move the Institute has long advocated. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Draft Options for Laguna Reach Restoration to be Presented at Stakeholders Meeting
The U.S. Department of Reclamation will present draft conceptual options for the restoration of the degraded Laguna Reach of the Colorado River, at a stakeholders meeting on May 28 in Yuma, Arizona. In early 2007, the Institute persuaded the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to convene the ‘Laguna Division Planning Group,’ comprised of state and federal agencies and the Pacific Institute, to develop habitat restoration objectives for the reach.  Building upon these discussions, and with the generous support of the W.C. Kenney Foundation, in December 2007 the Institute released a conceptual plan for the rehabilitation of 730 acres in the Laguna Reach, with the option for the rehabilitation project to be expanded to include more than 1000 acres. Click here for more information about the Laguna Reach and the Institute’s involvement.

Alliance for Water Stewardship to Establish Water Roundtable as their Standards Development Platform
Jason Morrison was in Washington, D.C. in April attending a partners meeting of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, of which the Pacific Institute is a founding member. A key outcome of the meeting was the decision to establish a Water Roundtable as the standards development platform for the water stewardship initiative, building on the experience of Alliance partner WWF with commodity and aquaculture roundtables. For more information about the Alliance for Water Stewardship, click here.


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