Influencing Water Policy

The Pacific Institute engages in policy work around the world, collaborating with partners, government, and on-the-ground stakeholders to create a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable water future.

As one example of our policy work, the Pacific Institute is working to ensure all California communities are prepared for droughts, which are becoming more frequent and intense. In the midst of a severe drought, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 1668 (Friedman) and Senate Bill 606 (Hertzberg). These bills, signed by Governor Brown in June 2018, created a new, more equitable framework for setting customized water use targets for urban water suppliers and improved water management and drought planning.

These laws were passed on the heels of years of science-based Pacific Institute research demonstrating the efficacy of water efficiency for ensuring water security and climate resilience. The Pacific Institute worked closely with a broad coalition to help the bill’s authors craft a law that ensures we make the most of our precious water resources and that serves as a model that can be adopted elsewhere.

In another example, the Pacific Institute supported California’s first-ever Drinking Water Needs Assessment to estimate the financial cost of providing safe drinking water. Following the passage of the Human Right to Water in 2012, the state passed Senate Bill 200 (Monning), creating the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program (SAFER). SAFER provides funding and other resources to help community water systems deliver safe, affordable drinking water, covering everything from treatment system upgrades to funding for operations and maintenance. The Pacific Institute led the Gap Analysis for Funding Solutions for Human Right to Water and At-Risk Drinking Water Systems, finding that $10.3 billion will be needed over the next five years to support struggling water systems and well owners across California – well above allocated state resources. After the release of this research, the state expanded funding for addressing drinking water issues, from less than $1 billion to $2 billion.

A sampling of our recent contributions towards sustainable and equitable water policy in California: 

October 20, 2021: Testimony on Colorado River Drought Conditions and Response Measures for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife

February 7, 2020: Comment Letter on the Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for the State of California

February 7, 2020: Comment Letter on the Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for the State of California Regarding a Multi-Benefit Approach

January 8, 2020: Comment Letter on the Proposed Urban Water Conservation Reporting Regulations for the State of California 

February 1, 2019: Comment Letter on the State Water Board’s Low Income Water Rates Assistance Draft Report

January 10, 2019: Comment Letter on the Proposed North Lake Project at the Salton Sea

August 25, 2017:  Comment Letter on State Water Board Proposed Low-Income Rate Assistance Program

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