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 freshwater resources.

Blog | January 7, 2021

Q&A: Water Recommendations for the Next Administration

The fact is that water challenges in the U.S. are severe and worsening. As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, poor water infrastructure and the failure to provide universal access to safe water and sanitation threaten public health. Water shortages, poor management, and antiquated water systems threaten the nation’s food supply, ecosystems, and economy. Conflicts over water around the globe threaten our national security. Worsening climate changes are increasing these risks, and the failure to act now will only make solving these issues harder.

Blog | December 23, 2020

Building Resilience & Addressing Inequities in Small, Underperforming Drinking Water Systems

Approximately 25 million people in the United States are served by water systems that regularly fail to meet federal safe drinking water standards. In addition, systems with poor water quality are more likely to serve low‐income and semi‐rural communities, as well as people of color. Internationally, other developed nations like Canada and Australia also struggle with delivering safe drinking water universally, particularly to rural, indigenous communities.

Blog | May 26, 2020

The COVID Crisis is Slashing California’s State Budget. What Does it Mean for Water Management?

It goes without saying that California today, in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, looks very different from the California of January 2020. Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revisions to the 2020-2021 state budget reflect this drastic change in circumstance, announcing a $54.3 billion budget deficit and proposing $18 billion in cuts to State funds expenditures.

Blog | April 28, 2020

The Environment, Climate, and a Global Pandemic

The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic is having the unexpected and unintended effect of teaching us lessons about both the vulnerability and the resilience of our natural ecosystems and environment. As of this writing in late April, we are still in the middle of it, with no obvious end in sight, as the virus continues to spread around the world.

Blog | April 6, 2020

Corporate Water Stewardship in the Colorado River Basin

The Colorado River Basin is the lifeblood of the West, providing water to more than 40 million people in seven U.S. states and two states in Mexico. Irrigation using Colorado River water generates an estimated $8 billion annually in agricultural products like winter vegetables, cotton, and cattle and dairy. In addition, recreation along the river and its tributary streams (boating, swimming, hiking, camping, etc.) contributes $17 billion per year to local economies.

Blog | February 19, 2020

Pacific Institute Provides Comments on California Water Resilience Portfolio

In January 2020, California state agencies released a draft document meant to signify a new chapter in California water: the Water Resilience Portfolio. The Portfolio was developed in response to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order (N-10-19), which called for a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system for the 21st century.

Blog | December 13, 2019

Insights from COP25: The (Interconnected) Pillars of Water System Transformation

At both major international climate events this year – COP25 in Madrid this month and the Climate Action Summit in New York City in September – there was a clear, resounding message from the environmental community: “We are exactly on track to where we don’t want to go, and change is needed now.” This message, while not new, was spoken this year with unprecedented urgency...

Blog | December 4, 2019

Managing Urban Flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area: From a Concrete Bowl to a Green Sponge

The first fall storm is rolling through the San Francisco Bay Area this week, marking the beginning of the rainy season. While this may mean a reprieve from this season’s wildfires, it also means there’s a new risk: floods. In this post, I dig into the issue of urban flooding – what are the causes, what are the dangers and impacts, and how can we better manage it?

Blog | October 29, 2019

How to Set Meaningful Site Water Targets

Climate change is impacting all regions of the world, cutting across all sectors of society. It is closely connected to water resources, leading to more floods, droughts, poor water quality, and increased water demand due to higher temperatures – more water is needed for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial cooling.

Blog | September 13, 2019

Salton Sea +20

After decades of false starts and false hopes, progress might finally be within reach for California’s Salton Sea – the state’s largest and most maligned lake. California’s governor and natural resources secretary have demonstrated the commitment and political will needed to construct actual, on-the-ground habitat and dust control projects.