Multiple Benefits of Water Conservation and Efficiency for California Agriculture

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Reducing Water Withdrawals Provides Benefits on the Farm and Beyond

Published: July 29, 2014
Author: Heather Cooley

California farmers have made progress in updating and modernizing irrigation practices, but despite past efforts, great untapped potential remains to use water more efficiently. Water efficiency – defined as measures that reduce water use while maintaining the benefits water provides – has been shown to be a cost-effective and flexible tool to adapt to drought as well as to address longstanding water challenges in California. Moreover, today’s investments in efficiency will provide a competitive advantage in the future and ensure the ongoing strength of the agriculture sector in California.

Water-efficiency strategies provide important benefits to farmers, ecosystems, and society. Some of the water saved represents new supply that can be dedicated to other uses. But there are also compelling reasons to seek reductions in total water withdrawals, e.g., allowing farmers to maintain and even improve crop yields and quality; protecting water quality; reducing fertilizer, water, and energy costs; and boosting profits. The multiple benefits associated with reducing both consumptive and non-consumptive water uses argues for a comprehensive approach for promoting water-efficiency improvements that allows us to address complex and interrelated water management challenges in California, including water-supply reliability, conflicts among water users, the risks of droughts, worsening water quality, and ecological degradation. This fact sheet and infographic, The Multiple Benefits of Water Efficiency for California Agriculture, describe some of these important benefits.

DroughtInfographic_r8

Download the report. (PDF)

Download the infographic. (PDF)  (JPG)

10 Shocking Facts about the World’s Water

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Published: March 21, 2014water-splash

Related: Read 7 Things You Need to Know about California Water

1.  3.4 million people—mainly children— die as a result of preventable water-related diseases every year.

2.  1.2 billion people—nearly 20 percent of the world’s population—live in areas of physical water scarcity. What does that mean? Water withdrawals for agriculture, industry, and domestic purposes exceed 75 percent of river flows.

3.  In developing countries, an estimated 90 percent of sewage and 70 percent of industrial waste is discharged into waterways without any treatment at all.

4.  Energy is a major user of water. In the US, thermoelectric power plants account for nearly 50% of all freshwater withdrawals.

5.  There have been 265 recorded incidences of water conflicts from 3000 BC to 2012. The past several years have seen an increase in the total number of reports of violent conflict over water.

6.  The last time the United States did an assessment of the water resources at the federal level was in the 1970s.

7.  It takes more than twice the amount of water to produce coffee than it does tea. Chicken and goat are the least water intensive meats to consume. More about how much water your diet consumes here.

8.    The amount of coal produced worldwide in 2009 required an estimated 1.3 to 4.5 billion cubic meters (m3) of water for extraction and processing. Global production of natural gas in 2009 required an estimated 840 million m3 of water.

9.    Because groundwater levels have dropped as much as 14 meters in the past half century in China, some sections of the Great Wall have been buried by sand. It’s estimated that some of the Great Wall will be gone in 10-20 years if action if not taken. 

10.    Nearly 12 percent of Native Americans on reservations and 30 percent of Alaska Natives lack plumbing

Related: Read 7 Things You Need to Know about California Water

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Donate to the Pacific Institute IMPACT Fund.

Sustainably managing the world’s water, planning for climate change, ensuring communities have a voice in decision-making, eliminating environmental inequities, supporting a thriving economy and environment: these are the critical challenges of our time. And these are the issues the Pacific Institute researches, influences, and responds to, impacting what happens today – with a vision for the future. 
Make an Impact today with a gift to the Impact Fund!

7 Things You Need to Know about California Water

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Published: March 21, 2014water-splash

Related: Read 10 Shocking Facts about the World’s Water.

  1. In California, an estimated 19% of the state’s electricity use and 32% of all natural gas consumption are related to water. For perspective, consider that leaving the hot water running for five minutes uses as much energy as operating a 60-W light bulb for 14 hours.

     

  2. Up to one-third of California’s current urban water use — more than 2.3 million acre-feet — can be saved using existing technology, such as replacing old, inefficient water-using devices with high-efficiency models in our homes and businesses, as well as replacing some lawns with low-water-use plants.

     

  3. At least 85% of urban water use savings can be saved at costs below what it will cost to tap into new sources of supply and without the social, environmental, and economic impacts that any major water project will bring.

     

  4. The water footprint of the average Californian is 1,500 gallons per day, slightly less than the average American but considerably more than the average resident in other developed countries or in the rest of the world.

     

  5. More than 90% of California’s water footprint is associated with agricultural products: meat and dairy products have especially large water footprints due to the water-intensive feed required to raise the animals. 

     

  6. California can save up to 4.5 – 6 million acre-feet of water each year by expanding the use of efficient irrigation technologies and management practices.

     

  7. Agriculture and other human activities contribute to contamination of public and private water supplies. The California State Water Board sampled 181 domestic wells in Tulare County in 2006 and found that 40% of those tested had nitrate levels above the legal limit.

 
Related: Read 10 Shocking Facts about the World’s Water

world-water-day-sticker


Donate to the Pacific Institute IMPACT Fund.

Sustainably managing the world’s water, planning for climate change, ensuring communities have a voice in decision-making, eliminating environmental inequities, supporting a thriving economy and environment: these are the critical challenges of our time. And these are the issues the Pacific Institute researches, influences, and responds to, impacting what happens today – with a vision for the future. 
Make an Impact today with a gift to the Impact Fund!

Community Resilience Fact Sheets Help Communities Prepare for Climate Change Impacts

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Published: April 24, 2013
Authors: Ariana de Lena, Kristian Ongoco, Catalina Garzon

As Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina have taught us, climate change is a global process with very localized impacts that can profoundly affect community health and quality of life. These localized impacts, ranging from extreme temperatures to rising sea levels, will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations such as the elderly, renters, low-income residents, limited English speakers, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and those without health or home insurance. Yet the same communities considered most vulnerable to climate change also contain a wealth of knowledge about how to creatively marshal social networks, culturally-based practices and skills, and limited resources to weather hard times.

Our Community Resilience Fact Sheets, below, can be used by community leaders and residents to learn more about the actions they can take before, during, and after climate change impacts hit. They  provide residents with tips and resources on how to better prepare for and protect themselves and their communities from climate change impacts from flooding, rising electricity costs, poor air quality, wildfires, rising water costs and water scarcity, and extreme heat. The fact sheets are part of the Climate Change Survivor project, which provides engaging activities and games, downloadable, to raise awareness about climate change impacts like heat waves, flooding, and poor air quality – and the tools that community members can use to build safety and resilience.

The Community Resilience Fact Sheets are the result of a partnership between the Pacific Institute and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) to assess local climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation options — and to develop actionable tools to engage vulnerable communities in climate adaptation planning efforts with a focus on implementation of the City of Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan. Our Resilient Roots Project, a partnership between the Pacific Institute and OCAC’s Resilience and Adaptation Subcommittee, works to connect Oakland residents to the resources and capacity they need to take individual and collective action to build their resiliency to local climate impacts and to engage in climate adaptation planning efforts to better prepare and protect their communities from these impacts.

Popular education is a key tool for expanding climate change literacy among vulnerable populations and for engaging vulnerable communities in building community resilience. Over the past year the Pacific Institute has worked with OCAC members to develop community-friendly educational materials and activities based on our recently published report Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, CA, which analyzes social vulnerability to local climate change impacts in Oakland and identifies adaptation options that could be put in place to address these impacts. The resulting Fact Sheets can be read as online versions or downloaded to print out and fold into handy brochures.

Download the ONLINE VERSIONS of the Community Resilience Fact Sheets:

dotFlooding (PDF) dotWildfires (PDF)
dotRising Electricity Costs (PDF) dotRising Water Costs and Water Scarcity (PDF)
dotPoor Air Quality (PDF) dotExtreme Heat (PDF)

Download the PRINT-AND-FOLD VERSIONS of the Community Resilience Fact Sheets:

dotFlooding (PDF) dotWildfires (PDF)
dotRising Electricity Costs (PDF) dotRising Water Costs and Water Scarcity (PDF)
dotPoor Air Quality (PDF) dotExtreme Heat (PDF)

Note: Instructions for folding the fact sheets are included with each fact sheet.

For more information about our Resilient Roots Project, please contact Program Co-Director Catalina Garzon at cgarzon (at) pacinst.org.

Download:

Are You a Climate Change Survivor? Activity Workbook
Climate Change Survivor Board Game

Climate Change Survivor Press Release
-Report: Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California

Pacific Institute Analyzes the 2010 California Water Bond

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Published: August 12, 2010
Authors: Juliet Christian-Smith, Lucy Allen, Eli Moore, Peter Gleick
Pages: 28

It is a critical time in California water policy.

At the end of 2009, a series of water-related bills was passed by the California Legislature, with the intent of moving the state out of decades of gridlock over water resource management. Simultaneously, the Legislature approved an $11.14 billion bond called the “Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010” to fund water system upgrades. This is the largest water bond in 50 years, yet the costs and benefits of the bond have not been fully assessed by an independent organization. The water bond has been postponed to 2012, but actions must be taken by the Legislator to ensure a responsible and effective water bond is proposed two years from now.

The Pacific Institute’s Water Program and Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program have collaborated on an independent analysis of the bond and released the report: The California 2010 Water Bond: What Does It Say and Do? The questions addressed by our analysis include:

  • What does the bond language actually cover and say?
  • How does the bond compare to past water bonds in size, definitions, and scope?
  • How will the bond be allocated among different funding priorities?
  • What are the governance implications of the bond?
  • What options are available for funding water system improvements?
  • What effect would the bond have on other critical public services and projects funded by the state?
  • How are the water needs of disadvantaged communities addressed by the bond?

The full report of our independent analysis of the 2010 Water Bond is available, as well as three NEED TO KNOW Information Sheets.

Download the full report.

Download NEED TO KNOW Information Sheets about the 2010 California Water Bond:

– What are the Fiscal Impacts of an $11 Billion Water Bond?

How Does this 2010 Water Bond Compare to Past Bonds?

– Does the 2010 Water Bond Help Those Who Need It Most?

Download the Water Bond Overview PowerPoint presentationPowerPoint photos courtesy of California Department of Water Resources, Salton Sea Authority, and the City of Idaho Falls.

Download the Water Bond press release.

“Climate Change Question and Answer” Fact Sheet

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Published: June 29, 2010

Ruskin’s AB 1365 Updates State Planning Priorities

With the threat of climate change growing worse by the day, a historic bill to tackle the issue was passed by the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan, 8 to1 vote. Authored by Assemblymember Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City), and sponsored by State Controller Steve Westly, the bill (AB 1365) updates the State Planning Priorities to include an additional goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 7% by 2010 and 10% by 2020 based on the 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels.

“From cities in my district to cities across the state and around the globe, we face a serious threat from climate change,” said California Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. “It’s well past time to tackle this growing threat by adding a climate change goal to California’s State Planning Priorities. The world’s top scientists have told us that climate change is not only real it is already taking place. The good new is we have solutions, like this bill, that can turn the tide without harming our economy.”

“You can’t argue with solid scientific evidence that Global Warming is a real threat to humanity,” said State Controller Westly. “As the sixth largest economy in the world, we should lead the effort to stop the damaging effects of Global Warming and join other industrialized nations in adopting Kyoto Protocol Standards.”

“After decades of studying climate change, a global consensus has emerged: Climate change is real, has already begun, and poses a grave threat to the United States and the world,” said Dr. Peter H. Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute and a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. “The failure of the United States to act means that states must begin the process. This historic bill is a first step in that direction.”

The standards-setting bill will encourage companies, government agencies and individuals to improve efficiency and curtail the pollution that causes climate change without creating onerous new regulation.

Dr. Ron Cohen, UC Berkeley Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Earth and Planetary Science, said: “Our state has a long tradition of scientific and technical leadership. A proactive stance on greenhouse gas reduction is likely to reinforce ongoing efforts in California’s academic and commercial sectors to develop economically sensible solutions for reducing greenhouse gases. Such developments will further California’s advantage in high technology producing new jobs here while leading the world to a more stable climate.”

“The evidence has never been clearer: Time is running out and immediate action is imperative,” Assemblymember Ruskin concluded.

Along with rising sea levels, more intense storms, and more frequent and intense droughts, climate change may severely affect California’s agricultural industry, its wine-growing regions, and its ski industry. Climate change is also very likely to play havoc with the state’s water supply by changing when and where we get rain, by raising temperatures, and by impacting how quickly our snow pack melts.

AB 1365 is supported by the Sierra Club, California League of Conservation Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Pacific Institute.

Questions and Answers about Climate Change

Prepared by the Pacific Institute of Oakland, California, April 22, 2005 in support of California AB1365

Question: Is climate change real and is it really happening?

“After decades of studying climate change, a global consensus has emerged: Climate change is real, has already begun, and poses a grave threat to the United States and the world,” said Dr. Peter H. Gleick, an internationally recognized expert on climate change and water resources. Dr. Gleick is President of the Pacific Institute, a member of the United Nations Sigma Xi Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Advisory Group, and a 2003 MacArthur Fellow.

In fact, most of the world’s largest oil companies (Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum, and ChevronTexaco) have all acknowledged that climate change is real, caused in part by humans, and requires action. Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell, has admitted that the threat of climate change makes him “really very worried for the planet” according to published reports. “No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are pumping out at present… with consequences that we really can’t predict but are probably not good.”

Beyond Theory: Observable Signs of Climate Change

“These phenomena are complex, and there are many uncertainties, but we now have scores of irrefutable observations that show we are already changing the Earth’s climate,” noted Gleick. “These signs include higher global temperatures, losses of snow and ice, increased storm intensity, rising ocean levels, and changing behavior of plants and animals.”

According to a recent study by the British Antarctic Survey: “Most of the glaciers on the Antarctic peninsular are in headlong retreat because of climate change… An in-depth study using aerial photographs spanning the past half century of all 244 marine glaciers on the west side of the finger-like peninsular pointing up to South America found that 87 percent of them were in retreat — and the speed was rising.”

According to Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, climate change is “the most severe problem we face today…”

Question: How will climate change affect California?

1) Climate change is expected to increase sea levels, placing low-lying coastal areas at greater risk of flooding, erosion, and salt-water intrusion

According to a report produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Sea levels along the California coast will likely continue rising over the next century… Consequences could be especially severe during El Niño years, when sea levels and coastal waves along the California coast are already unusually high and winter storms can bring torrential rains. Higher sea levels could also allow saltwater intrusion into aquifers and the rich ecosystems found at the mouths of rivers.”

The report goes on to note that ” San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, which can increase the risk of storm damage, erosion, and flooding of leveed islands, valuable real estate, and rich wetland eco-systems.”

According to a Pacific Institute report published in 1990, a one meter sea level rise would cost several billion dollars to protect against and that “We think it unlikely that the status quo around the Bay can be maintained under conditions of expected sea-level rise, even with extensive efforts to build protective structures.”

2) Climate change is predicted to play havoc with California’s water supply

According to Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute: “Climate change won’t just result in warmer temperatures. One of the most troubling impacts of unchecked climate change involves California’s water supply. Global warming will change when and where we get snow and rain. If our snow pack melts too quickly or if water that falls as snow turns to rain, we’ll see more flooding in the winter and less water during the summer when we need it most.” Dr. Gleick was lead author of the U.S. National Assessment report for water resources.

According to Professor Lisa Sloan, University of California, Santa Cruz: “With less precipitation falling as snow and more as rain, plus higher temperatures creating increased demand for water, the impacts [of climate change] on our water storage system will be enormous.”

3) California’s agricultural sector, environment and the health of its residents could be seriously affected by Climate Change

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Higher temperatures could also affect California’s leading agricultural products, reducing dairy production and diminishing the quality of wine grapes in all but the coolest grape growing regions.” According to the same report, Climate change may increase the number of heat related deaths in California, unless preventative measures or taken, and, climate change, is likely to alter California’s natural environment significantly.

Question: Isn’t climate change a global issue, not a state issue?

Climate change is clearly a global issue – greenhouse gases from around the world combine in the atmosphere. However, there are several reasons California should take the lead among U.S. states: California contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions, we are a leader in renewable technology and thus could benefit economically by encourage efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions; and by “leading by example” we would encourage other states and the federal government to act in concert with us.

Question: Won’t the costs of responding to climate change hurt our economy?

Responding to climate change could actually help our economy, by stimulating new industries, by taking actions before other states do, and by helping to reduce long-term impacts. California is already a leader in the clean, high-tech industries that create solar installations and develop and build other kinds of renewable technology. The state is home to several of the largest solar system builders in the United States, PowerLight in Berkeley and Pacific Power Management in Auburn.

According to the head of British Petroleum, the oil company is on target to reduce green house gas emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by 2010 – twice the rate set out in the Kyoto treaty. And, even more surprisingly, British Petroleum hit its target at no net economic cost.

Question: Do we have the technology to respond to climate change now?

According to Xcel energy CEO Wayne Brunetti, we have the technology to significantly reduce emissions: “Give us a date, tell us how much we need to cut, give us the flexibility to meet the goals, and we’ll get it done.”

Water Fact Sheet Looks at Threats, Trends, Solutions

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Published: May 23, 2010

“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” 
– Ben Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac 1733

On the subject of water, three key trends confront us: climate change will affect rainfall and runoff patterns and seriously impact our water supplies both in the United States and abroad; 780 million people in the developing world still don’t have access to clean drinking water – and pressure from pollution, wetland destruction, and climate change is threatening to make this worse; and the dangers of water privatization demand greater scrutiny from governments and the public.

New approaches to the way we manage water are key to meeting these challenges. Water managers, policy-makers, and the general public must recognize that today’s threats will become tomorrow’s tragedies without swift action to combat climate change, protect wetlands, guard against the dangers of privatization, and use our water efficiently. The good news is by improving how efficiently we use water we can protect the environment, provide for agriculture and industry, and ensure there is plenty of clean drinking water for people around the world.


Facts on the World’s Water

  • The Earth has 1,386,000,000 km3 of water total but only 2.5 percent of that is fresh water (35,029,000 km3 or 9,254,661,800 billion gallons of fresh water).
  • Less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water (or 0.01 percent of all water) is usable in a renewable fashion.
  • The average person needs a minimum of 1.3 gallons (5 liters) of water per day to survive in a moderate climate at an average activity level. The minimum amount of water needed for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sanitation is 13 gallons (50 liters).
  • The average person in the United States uses between 65 to 78 gallons of water (250 to 300 liters) per day for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering their yard. The average person in the Netherlands uses only 27 gallons (104 liters) per day for the same tasks.
  • The average person in the African nation of Gambia uses only 1.17 gallons (4.5 liters) of water per day.

Trend: Climate Change Impacts Threaten Water Supplies and Economy

Delaying action to combat climate change and plan resilience strategies for inevitable changes could threaten water supplies, both in the U.S. and around the world. Climate change will disrupt traditional weather and run-off patterns and could increase the frequency and severity of drought and floods, changing when and where we get snow and rain. In the western U.S., if our snow pack melts too quickly or if water that falls as snow turns to rain, we’ll see more flooding in the winter and less water during the summer when we need it most. This is one reason why taking effective action now to reduce greenhouse gas emisions is so important.

Facts about Climate Change in the United States:

  • There is an increased risk of severe floods and droughts associated with climate change.
  • Snowfall and snowmelt will be significantly affected in the Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest, leading to changes in the timing and amount of runoff.
  • Rising sea levels will threaten coastal aquifers and water supplies. Vulnerable regions include Cape Cod, Long Island, the coastal aquifers of the Carolinas, and the central coast of California.
  • Climate change, by increasing temperatures in lakes and streams, melting permafrost, and reducing water clarity, could seriously threaten fish and other animals that live in water as well as harming critical habitat like wetlands. More about the impacts of climate change on water…


Trend: Growing Threats to World’s Water Demand New Approach

Freshwater is essential for human survival, for agriculture and for the survival of our planet’s plants and animals. But pollution, climate change, water-related disease, and the destruction of our natural world all threaten the purity and availability of our most precious resource. Despite the pressing nature of these threats, water institutions and policymakers have, so far, been largely unable to develop the tools and approaches needed to address these problems.”The best way to solve emerging threats to the world’s fresh water is by rethinking how we use and manage our scarce resources,” said Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “We must look at ways to increase our efficiency of use, instead of just building more dams and reservoirs. Improving the efficiency of our water systems, taking real steps to tackle global warming, and opening the policy debate over water to new voices can help turn the tide.”

Facts about Emerging Threats to the World’s Water:

  • An estimated 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation. As a result, 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes.
  • In the past century over half of all wetlands on the planet have been lost to development and conversion. Wetlands are important to the health of natural systems and people because they act as filters and flood buffers.
  • Water pollution is a serious threat to the world’s water. Microbes, salts, and pollution from agriculture and industry all contribute to the problem.
  • Global warming will likely have major impacts on the world’s freshwater resources. Some areas will suffer more frequent and severe droughts; other places will face more frequent and severe floods. More about Threats to the World’s Freshwater Resources…

Trend: Dangers of Water Privatization Demand Greater Scrutiny

Water privatization – turning the operation, control, or ownership of public water supplies over to corporations – is increasing both overseas and in the United States. In the U.S., cities like Stockton, California, Jersey City, New Jersey, New Orleans, and Atlanta have all experimented with water privatization. Though certain types of privatization can help water utilities become more efficient or provide water – especially to those in the developing world who currently lack basic services – there are a host of dangers. “There is little doubt that the headlong rush to private markets has failed to address some of the most critical issues and concerns about water,” Dr. Peter H. Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute. “Our assessment shows that rigorous, independent review of water privatization efforts are necessary to protect the public. Water is far too important to human health and the health of our natural world to be placed entirely in the private sector.”

Facts about Water Privatization:

  • Communities around the nation are experimenting with water privatization including: Lee County, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans; Jersey City, New Jersey; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Peoria, Illinois.
  • Twenty years ago, Americans drank around one gallon (under 4 liters) of bottled water a year, mostly from office coolers. Today, on average each American drinks around 30 gallons (115 liters) each year, mostly from single-serve plastic bottles that we throw away.

Solution: Using Water More Efficiently Key to Meeting Future Demands

As the trends show, there are many serious threats to the world’s supply of fresh water. But the good news is that we have a solution that can help us solve, or at least make headway, on all of these problems: improving efficiency. Work at the Pacific Institute indicates that California residents are using almost 35 percent more water than they need to be. And, previous work has shown that there are a host of innovative techniques that can be applied to the residential, commercial, and agricultural sectors to improve our efficiency and conserve water.

Facts about Water Efficiency:

  • Many technologies that are already available can help us save enough water to hedge against climate change and reduce stress on threatened natural resources while still allowing us to meet our needs for agricultural, industrial, and residential use.
  • By 2020, enough water can be saved from indoor residential uses alone to meet the needs of over 5 million people.
  • Proper irrigation can save another 450 thousand-acre-feet (KAF) of water per year. This is enough to satisfy the needs of another 3.6 million people (1 acre-foot supplies two households of four people for a year).

Richmond’s Tax Revenue from Chevron

Posted on:

Published: October 2008
Authors: Eli Moore, Swati Prakash
Pages: 12

An Excerpt from the forthcoming report by the West County Indicators Project

From roadways and streetlights to police, fire trucks, parks, and shelters, the resources and services that Richmond residents look to in their community depend on public revenue. As Richmond’s largest industry, Chevron also relies on the city’s optimal location, infrastructure, and public services to function, but how much it contributes to the community has been unclear. In a chapter from the West County Indicators Report, the Pacific Institute finds Chevron’s contribution to Richmond revenue is closer to 10% of the city’s total revenues–findings that counter reports it is responsible for one-third of the city’s revenue.

The chapter, “Richmond’s Tax Revenue from Chevron,” is an except from a forthcoming report by the West County Indicators Project.


Download

 

CEO Water Mandate 2nd Working Conference

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CEO Water Mandate 2nd Working Conference
August 21-22, 2008

World Water Week, Stockholm
MEETING SUMMARY

Overview

Recognizing the urgency with respect to addressing the emerging global water crisis, the UN Secretary-General, in partnership with a number of international business leaders, launched in July 2007 a new initiative – The CEO Water Mandate – under the auspices of the UN Global Compact. The initiative was developed with the understanding that the private sector, through the production of goods and services, impacts water resources – both directly and through supply chains. Endorsing CEOs acknowledge that in order to operate in a more sustainable manner, and contribute to the vision of the UN Global Compact and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, they have a responsibility to make water-resources management a priority, and to work with governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to address this global water challenge.

After a successful inaugural meeting at UN Headquarters in March 2008, the UN Global Compact Office, in collaboration with the Pacific Institute, convened the CEO Water Mandate’s second working conference on August 21-22, 2008. Held during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, the conference’s overarching goals were to explore 1) how to understand and address water impacts and risks embedded within companies’ supply chains and 2) how to ensure that the Mandate and its endorsers are transparent with respect to water use and impacts. Like the inaugural meeting, the conference brought together senior representatives from Mandate endorsing companies, UN agencies, civil society groups, and other organizations.

The first day and a half of the two-day meeting was structured as a multi-stakeholder forum in which endorsers and stakeholders shared experiences with regard to water supply chain management and water transparency and exchanged ideas on minimum expectations and ways to advance best practice with regard to the two Mandate elements. The first day focused primarily on water and supply chain issues, with the morning of the second day covering transparency,specifically focusing on the draft Phase One Transparency Framework developed in advance of the meeting.

The afternoon of the second day was an endorser-only meeting that provided a forum to: 1) digest feedback provided during the multi-stakeholder workshop and decide upon whether and how the initiative as a whole should pursue further activities relating to water and supply chain management, 2) reach consensus on how to progress the Mandate’s Transparency Framework and 3) determine next steps on the Mandate’s funding, recruitment efforts, potential partnerships, and future multi-stakeholder working conferences in 2009 and beyond. […]

Download the full article here

Integrity of Science: Bottled Water and Energy Factsheet: Getting to 17 Million Barrels

Posted on:

Published: December 2007
This case study was originally published in the Pacific Institute’s Integrity of Science Blog (2006-2007).
Read more entries by searching keywords “Integrity of Science Blog” on our Publications page.

Abstract

The Pacific Institute finds that it took approximately 17 million barrels of oil equivalent to produce plastic for bottled water consumed by Americans in 2006—enough energy to fuel more than 1 million American cars and light trucks for a year. The widely cited 1.5 million barrel statistic is an error, the result of a miscommunication between a journalist and a researcher in 2003. That researcher and others now stand by this updated assessment.

Background

As concern about the cost and environmental impact of bottled water grows, so does our understanding of the true nature of that impact. In 2007, media focus shifted to the energy involved in producing bottled water. A high profile New York Times editorial cited that an estimated 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent were needed to produce the bottles for annual U.S. bottled water consumption. This analysis did not jibe with that of the Pacific Institute or the Container Recycling Institute, both of whom have been researching bottled water for several years. A more recent, detailed assessment conducted by the Pacific Institute concludes the actual number is more than 10 times the incorrect figure. Approximately 17 million barrels of oil equivalent were needed to produce the plastic water bottles consumed by Americans in 2006—enough energy to fuel more than one million cars for a year. The Earth Policy Institute and the Container Recycling Institute, to whom the error has been attributed, have reviewed the new calculation and acknowledge this higher value is the accurate estimate.

Bottled Water and Energy

Bottled water requires energy throughout its life cycle. Energy is required to capture, treat, and send water to the bottling plant; fill, package, transport, and cool the bottled water; and recycle or dispose of the empty containers. Calculating the total amount of energy needed is complicated by the location of the water source, the location of the consumer, the type of material and packaging, the method of transportation, and other factors. Our “Bottled Water and Energy Fact Sheet” addresses the energy required to make the plastic materials used, and then to fabricate that plastic into the actual bottles the U.S. consumes—only two of the many energy-intensive stages in a water bottle’s life cycle.

Download the full fact sheet here.

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