An Assessment of Oil and Gas Water Cycle Reporting in California

Published: November 2021


In the context of severe drought in California, Senate Bill 1281 (2014, Pavley) expanded reporting requirements for the state's oil and gas industry regarding produced water — the water extracted from oil and gas production. The intention of the bill is to ensure the ability to assess impacts on California’s water resources, public health, and the environment.

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Does the Bay Area Have the Water It Needs to Grow?

Published: October 2021


It seems as though the two things the Bay Area has the least of are housing and water. The region has a shortfall of 699,000 housing units, which has driven housing costs to astronomical heights, and pushed 35,000 of our neighbors into temporary housing or onto the streets. Our colleagues at San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR),a public policy think tank, have found that the region needs to build an astonishing 2.2 million homes by 2070 to meet future demand and make up for the present shortfall.

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Water Resilience

Published: October 2021


The world is facing a global water crisis marked by growing competition for freshwater resources, rapidly deteriorating water quality, poor and declining ecosystem health, unprecedented biodiversity loss, and a failure to meet basic water and sanitation needs.

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Freshwater Scarcity

Published: October 2021


The availability and use of fresh water are critical for human health and for economic and ecosystem stability. But the growing mismatch between human demands and natural freshwater availability is contributing to water scarcity, affecting industrial and agricultural production and a wide range of social, economic, and political problems, including poverty, deterioration of ecosystem health, and violent conflicts.

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

Published: October 2021


Pacific Institute Senior Researcher Michael Cohen submitted written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife for their October 20, 2021 hearing on drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin and potential response measures.

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The Future of California’s Water-Energy-Climate Nexus

Published: September 2021


Water and energy are inextricably linked in California and, as one resource faces constraints or challenges, so does the other. With the state looking to both reach its climate change goals and decarbonize its economy through a transition to 100 percent clean energy, water will play an integral role.

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Water Resilience Assessment Framework

Published: August 2021


Climate change is driving many types of water challenges, including water scarcity and abundance, worsening water quality, and shifts in timing of the hydrologic cycle. Shocks and stresses affect the resilience of water systems and the stakeholders that rely on them. Specific guidance on how to understand system resilience and measure systematic changes and intervening actions can ensure a more resilient future for all.

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Dying from the Heat

Published: July 2021


No one wants to be a statistic in a climate disaster—an anonymous entry in a dataset of extreme events. But sometimes things sneak up on you. A couple of weeks ago, during one of the extraordinary and severe heat events striking western North America, I almost suffered from heat stroke.

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At Risk: Public Supply Well Vulnerability Under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Published: June 2021


Community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley face a host of challenges that threaten the safety and reliability of drinking water, including pollution, periodic drought, and chronic groundwater overdraft. Moreover, shallow wells, some of which serve community water systems, are vulnerable to short-term and chronic declines in groundwater levels. For example, during the 2012-2016 drought, many domestic wells and some public supply wells went dry. 

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Stacked Incentives: Co-Funding Water Customer Incentive Programs

Published: June 2021


Water utilities throughout the United States offer customer incentives to motivate action and foster engagement with their customers. These incentive programs can take many forms, from rebates for high-efficiency fixtures and appliances to technical assistance for installing cisterns and rain gardens.

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Setting Enterprise Water Targets: A Guide for Companies

Published: May 2021


The complexity of global water challenges requires meaningful action across sectors, including the business sector. A critical aspect of business engagement in successful water stewardship is setting water targets that address the shared water challenges in the water basins where a company operates, sources, and provides goods and services, and that enable actions that reduce or eliminate the associated water risks. 

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Drinking Water Cost Assessment & Gap Analysis

Published: April 2021


In 2012, California’s Human Right to Water was passed, calling for safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water for all citizens. Then in 2016, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted a Human Right to Water Resolution, making the Human Right to Water a primary consideration and priority across its programs.

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Benefit Accounting of Nature-Based Solutions for Watersheds: Guide

Published: March 2021


Nature-based solutions use or mimic natural processes to meet societal and environmental needs. They can be used to restore, manage, or protect water resources while also increasing biodiversity and providing additional social and economic benefits. Yet there is no standardized method to identify, estimate, and monitor the benefits that nature-based solutions can provide, making it hard to build the case for investments in these solutions.

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Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Business Framework for Water and COVID-19: Rebuilding and Resilience

Published: February 2021


The business community has a key role to play in responding to COVID-19, rebuilding the economy, and preventing and mitigating future shock events — both broadly speaking and specifically regarding water and handwashing. This second in the Pacific Institute’s Business Framework for Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic issue brief series continues to explore the role of businesses in a robust COVID-19 response, outlining how businesses can contribute to a “blue” economic recovery and help make society more resilient to future shocks.

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The Role of Onsite Water Systems in Advancing Water Resilience in Silicon Valley

Published: January 2021


California’s Silicon Valley faces a host of water challenges. The region’s water and wastewater infrastructure are aging, and in some cases are nearing the end of useful life. Continued growth and development are putting additional strains on the region, and climate change is adding to that burden through sea level rise, more intense storms, and more severe droughts. These challenges present risks but also an opportunity to rethink the design, configuration, and operation of water and wastewater systems.

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Water Scarcity Will Increase Risk of Conflict, Says New National Intelligence Report

Published: December 2020


On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 116-92), including the Intelligence Authorization Act of FY2020. Section 6722 of that law required a report be prepared on the national security effects of “global water insecurity” and be submitted within 180 days (by late June 2020) to “the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.”

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Financing Water Supply and Sanitation in a Changing Climate

Published: October 2020


Human-caused climate change is real and accelerating, creating new challenges for all aspects of freshwater management, including meeting basic human needs for water and sanitation. Important gaps in our understanding of these challenges include both the complications climate change poses for planning, implementing, and sustaining water supply and sanitation systems, especially for the poor; and the links between these systems and the emissions of greenhouse gases that worsen the overall climate problem.

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Ensuring One Water Delivers for Healthy Waterways: A Framework for Incorporating Healthy Waterways into One Water Plans and Projects

Published: October 2020


As forward-thinking cities become increasingly adept at capturing and reusing wastewater, stormwater, and greywater, essential river systems may be at risk. The “One Water” approach to water management emphasizes an integrated planning and implementation approach that acknowledges the finite nature of water resources and prioritizes long-term resilience and reliability.

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The Future Has Arrived. These Explosive Fires Are Our Climate Change Wakeup Call

Published: September 2020


Like millions of people in the western United States this week, I woke up to deep red, sunless skies, layers of ash coating the streets, gardens, and cars, and the smell of burning forests, lives, homes, and dreams. Not to be too hyperbolic, but on top of the political chaos, the economic collapse, and the worst pandemic in modern times, it seemed more than a little apocalyptic.

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Water Recommendations to the Next President

Published: September 2020


Every human being needs safe and affordable water, but in the United States, tens of millions of people still lack it. As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, poor water infrastructure and the failure to provide universal access to safe water and sanitation threaten public health. Meanwhile, water shortages, poor management, and antiquated water systems threaten the nation’s food supply, ecosystems, and economy.

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Sustainable for Whom? The Impact of Groundwater Sustainability Plans on Domestic Wells

Published: September 2020


Studies estimate that 1.5 to 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs, but because domestic wells are often shallow, they are often sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. Thus sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of Californians and the achievement of the state’s recognized human right to water.

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Ending Conflicts Over Water: Solutions to Water and Security Challenges

Published: September 2020


Water-related conflict and political instability are on the rise across the globe. But while intensifying water challenges and the threats they pose to security are well documented, relatively few solutions have been presented. This report fills the gap by exploring several dozen strategies to reduce water-related conflicts in key water-insecure hotspots around the world.

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Water Resilience in the Age of COVID-19

Published: August 2020


In the past few weeks, communities around the country have experienced record-breaking rain, heat, hurricanes, and drought. We have seen flooding from failed dams and levees, as well as fires from unseasonably dry forests and grasslands.

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Comment Letter on USEPA WaterSense Program

Published: July 2020


This comment letter submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) expresses strong support for both maintaining and strengthening the WaterSense Program at the USEPA, and includes specific recommendations for improving the program. 

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Água e a Pandemia da COVID-19: Um Plano Empresarial para Água e COVID-19: Ações Práticas para Conter a Pandemia

Published: July 2020


Para combater a propagação da COVID-19 e reconstruir nossas economias durante e após a pandemia, uma ação coletiva em relação à água é essencial. Tal ação pode ajudar não apenas a conter o vírus, como também a realizar o direito humano à água e acelerar a economia “azul”, na qual o bem-estar econômico e a resiliência hídrica se reforçam mutuamente. A comunidade empresarial pode desempenhar um papel fundamental no combate à disseminação da COVID-19, bem como reconstruir a economia e reduzir o risco de choques futuros. 

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Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Business Framework for Water & COVID-19: Practical Actions to Contain the Pandemic

Published: July 2020


To combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus and rebuild our economies during and after the pandemic, collective action on water is essential. Such action can help not only to contain the virus, but also to realize the human right to water and accelerate the “blue” economy, whereby economic well-being and water resilience mutually reinforce one another.

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Setting Site Water Targets Informed by Catchment Context CASE STUDY: Noyyal-Bhavani River Basin, South India

Published: July 2020


The world’s water resources are under increasing pressure from rising water consumption, pollution, and climate variability. The variety of water challenges companies face, from water governance issues to extreme events like drought, manifest in the river basins where the companies operate. Therefore, setting meaningful targets requires companies to take the local context of their operations into consideration.

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Setting Site Water Targets Informed by Catchment Context CASE STUDY: Upper Vaal River Basin and Berg and Breede River Basins, South Africa

Published: July 2020


The world’s water resources are under increasing pressure from rising water consumption, pollution, and climate variability. The variety of water challenges companies face, from water governance issues to extreme events like drought, manifest in the river basins where the companies operate. Therefore, setting meaningful targets requires companies to take the local context of their operations into consideration.

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Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Municipal Water Demand

Published: July 2020


The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has imposed massive health and economic burdens on communities around the world, and affected every sector of society, including the water sector. Unexpected events – from social disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic to more extreme droughts and floods due to climate change - highlight the need for water utilities to bolster their resilience so they can continue to provide critical water and wastewater services in a more variable and uncertain future.

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Scaling Green Stormwater Infrastructure Through Multiple Benefits in Austin, Texas: Distributed Rainwater Capture on Residential Properties in the Waller Creek Watershed

Published: June 2020


The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and water reuse to rainwater harvesting and stormwater management.

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Urban and Agricultural Water Use in California, 1960 -2015

Published: June 2020


Water is the lifeblood of California, providing for the household needs of 40 million people and supporting one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, various commercial and industrial activities, and the health and viability of the state’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

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No COVID-19 Models Are Perfect, But Some Are Useful

Published: May 2020


The global coronavirus pandemic has brought renewed interest and focus on scientific models as we try to get a handle on what the future will bring, how many people will fall sick and die, what the economic impacts will be, and what actions politicians should take.

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