EPA Honors Pacific Institute for Work on Water Conservation and Efficiency in California

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2009

EPA Honors Pacific Institute for Work on Water Conservation and Efficiency in California

Innovative Research Helps Prepare California’s Agricultural Community

OAKLAND—In recognition of their commitment to protect the environment and sustainably manage California’s vital freshwater resources, Pacific Institute researchers Heather Cooley, Juliet Christian-Smith, and Peter Gleick were presented with a 2009 Region 9 Environmental Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Pacific Institute in Oakland was specifically recognized for work that has altered how California approaches its water crisis, offering solutions that can help keep the state’s vital agricultural sector thriving while still helping to reduce groundwater overdraft and protect the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. Forty groups and individuals throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands, and tribal lands were selected for their commitment and significant contributions to the environment.

In September 2008, Institute researchers Heather Cooley, Juliet Christian-Smith, and Peter Gleick released a report quantifying the potential for water-use efficiency in California’s agricultural sector through the implementation of available, cost-effective water efficiency measures that many farmers are already successfully using. The Pacific Institute report, More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California – A Special Focus on the Delta, has generated discussion around non-infrastructure-oriented solutions that have long been absent from management conversations during a pivotal time in California, when drought persists and solutions to the San-Joaquin Delta crisis remain complicated.

The trio continues to work with on-the-ground stakeholders to investigate and help implement practical solutions to pressing water issues, meeting with irrigation districts, farmers, and community members from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley to the Imperial Valley. From stimulating management discussion, to meeting with growers, to creating actual planning and policy recommendations, Cooley, Christian-Smith, and Gleick have been a catalytic force as California grapples with its freshwater management problems.

“California’s Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura and other leaders throughout the state have stated that doing nothing is not an option. We agree,” said honoree Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith. “We will continue our work helping keep California’s vital agricultural sector thriving, recognizing the need to reduce groundwater overdraft, prepare for the increasing threats of climate change, and respond to the state’s water crisis.”

“It is a great pleasure and honor that we can recognize the innovative and important environmental work achieved by this year’s impressive group of organizations and individuals, and the example they set for all of us to follow,” said Laura Yoshii, the U.S. EPA’s acting administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “This year’s winners and nominees have made superb efforts to protect and preserve our air, water, and land and have increased awareness of the environmental challenges we all face.”

Based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute is a nonpartisan research institute that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Through interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders, the Institute produces solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity – in California, nationally, and internationally.