Assessing Water Affordability: A Pilot Study in Two Regions of California

Published: August 2013


A pilot study in California showed that many households, even within affluent communities, routinely spent over the affordability threshold of two percent of their household income on their water bill. The number of water systems with “unaffordable” rates varied by region and measure used, with important implications for policymakers.

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Water Rates: Communication and Education – Issue Brief

Published: June 2013


All water service providers must periodically correspond with their customers as well as state and local decision makers. In times of emergency messages can help customers understand what to expect next and when disrupted service might be restored. But regular communication in non-emergency periods is also necessary.

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Preparándose para la Acción

Published: June 2013


Preparándose para la Acción: Una Guía Curricular para Lograr Justicia en el Transporte de Carga del Pacific Institute ha sido revisada siendo una importante herramienta de abogacía para construir el poder y la capacidad de comunidades para participar en la toma de decisiones en cuanto a temas del transporte de carga.

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An Overview of the “New Normal” and Water Rate Basics

Published: June 2013


In the context of what is referred to as “the new normal”-- increasing costs to provide safe and reliable water supply amidst decreasing demand -- water service providers are facing new challenges in forecasting rates and preparing for future water demand.

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Community Resilience Fact Sheets Help Communities Prepare for Climate Change Impacts

Published: April 2013


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.

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Key Issues in Seawater Desalination in California: Costs and Financing

Published: November 2012


Seawater desalination is gaining traction as a potential solution to water supply challenges in California, but economics – specifically, the cost of the water produced and the complex financial arrangements needed to develop a project –  will ultimately determine the success and extent of this technology.

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Sustainability Standards and Public Governance

Published: November 2012


An emerging theme of the framing project from its inception in 2009 was the growing awareness of the significance and complexity of the interactions between voluntary, non-governmental sustainability standards and national and international governance, raising fundamental questions about standards development, use, legitimacy and sustainability.

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From Storage to Retention: Expanding California’s Options for Meeting its Water Needs

Published: November 2012


California’s ability to grow its wealth of specialty crops depends on retaining and storing water from the state's wet season for use during the long, dry summer season.

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Guide to Water-Related Collective Action and Water Action Hub

Published: August 2012


Global water challenges must be addressed through collective action, where multiple stakeholders collaborate on shared water stewardship goals.

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Urban Water Demand in California to 2100: Incorporating Climate Change

Published: August 2012


Climate change will have significant impacts on California water supply and demand. Research shows that the state’s changing climate will lead to increased water use in cities and suburbs, while water supply is expected to diminish.

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Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship

Published: August 2012


Expectations that business will respect, and in some cases support or help fulfill, internationally recognized human rights have increased over the past decade.

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A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy

Published: July 2012


This book provides the first independent assessment of water issues and water management in the United States in many decades, addressing emerging and persistent challenges from the perspectives of science, public policy, environmental justice, economics, and law.

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Cadiz Public Comments

Published: July 2012


This letter contains a summary of comments submitted by the Pacific Institute on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project on March 13th, 2012.

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Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in California

Published: July 2012


California faces a range of impacts from global climate change, including increased incidences of extreme heat, wildfires, coastal flooding, and erosion.

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Implications of Future Water Supply Sources for Energy Demands

Published: July 2012


The Water–Energy Simulator (WESim) is an easy-to-use analytical tool that can be used to evaluate the energy and greenhouse gas implications of water management decisions.

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Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California

Published: July 2012


This analysis identifies more than 50 strategies for building community resilience and adapting to climate-change impacts such as extreme heat, flooding, wildfires, poor air quality, and rising food, water, and electricity prices.

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The Impacts of Sea Level Rise on the San Francisco Bay

Published: July 2012


Rising sea levels from global climate change pose a serious threat to the highly developed coastal communities of the San Francisco Bay. This report assesses the populations, critical infrastructure, and property at risk from projected sea-level rise, if no action is taken to protect the coast.

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Key Issues in Seawater Desalination in California: Proposed Seawater Desalination Facilities

Published: July 2012


In 2006, the Pacific Institute published “Desalination, With a Grain of Salt,” a comprehensive overview of the advantages and disadvantages of seawater desalination to help meet California’s water needs. In 2012, the Institute launched a series of research reports identifying the key outstanding issues for desalination in California: cost and financing; energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions; and marine impacts.

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Opinion Editorial: Separating Frack From Fiction

Published: June 2012


Fracking – a process to improve the production of oil and gas wells – has generated tremendous controversy in recent years. There are daily and confusing media reports from outlets across the United States and other countries, including Canada, South Africa, Australia, France and England.

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Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction

Published: June 2012


Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has generated growing controversy. The lack of credible and comprehensive data around the possible risks of fracking is a major impediment to a clear assessment of its impacts.

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Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas

Published: June 2012


While much research has been produced on how water use and pollution can exacerbate conflict, this report focuses more broadly on the ways conflict and high-risk situations can affect water systems and resources directly, as well as the planning, construction, operation, and management of water systems.

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Water Rates: Water Affordability – Issue Brief

Published: June 2012


Water rates in the United States are not typically understood as a human rights issue, but utility bills can be an exceptional burden for low income households.

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Water Rates: Water Demand Forecasting – Issue Brief

Published: June 2012


Historically, water demand forecasts have been determined by estimating current per-capita water consumption multiplied by expected future population.

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mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector

Published: April 2012


Billions of the world’s poor still lack access to basic water and sanitation services, but mobile devices are common even in areas without these services.

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CE2 Model: Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency Measures

Published: April 2012


The Pacific Institute has developed the Cost Effectiveness of Water Conservation and Efficiency (CE2) Model to help evaluate the economic desirability of water conservation and efficiency measures and explore how costs and benefits can be shared among customers, water utilities, and other entities. Designed primarily for water utility staff, the model quickly and easily calculates financial metrics that are meaningful and readily understood by planners and managers and provides a common platform through which to discuss the costs and benefits of water conservation and efficiency.

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Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS): Recommendations for a Robust and Sustainable Approach

Published: March 2012


Creating sustainable water systems will continue to be one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) has emerged as a water-provision and management approach that addresses the poverty alleviation potential of water projects. MUS is rooted in the multiple ways in which people have interacted with their local water sources over time, and seeks to overcome the fragmented way in which water is currently managed. This report analyzes the gaps in the MUS approach and evaluates previous efforts at integration in the water sector to identify lessons learned and recommendations for making MUS implementation more robust and sustainable.

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The Water – Energy Nexus in the American West: The Energy Implications of Desalination

Published: January 2012


Despite some major barriers to desalination, interest has recently mushroomed as technology has improved, demands for water have grown, and prices have declined.

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Climate Change and Urbanisation: Building Resilience in the Urban Water Sector– A Case Study of Indore, India

Published: December 2011


Thousands of cities in the developing world face rising pressures on water resources due to population growth and urbanization, which are intensified by the effects of climate change. In developed countries cities, the government or formal sector often exclusively manage water supply services, while in developing countries informal water managers may predominate.

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Testimony of Peter Gleick: Recommendations to Congress for Fundamental Changes in National Water Policy

Published: December 2011


This testimony of Dr. Peter H. Gleick before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for the Hearing on Opportunities and Challenges was given on December 8, 2011 to address domestic and global water supply issues.


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Water-use Efficiency and Productivity: Rethinking the Basin Approach

Published: December 2011


The Pacific Institute provides thoughtful new analysis to help move beyond the theoretical quagmire that has characterized the debate over water use efficiency for decades.

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At a Crossroads in Our Region’s Health: Freight Transport and the Future of Community Health in the San Francisco Bay Area

Published: December 2011


Priority Development Areas in the San Francisco Bay region overlap with communities with the highest health risk from toxic air contaminants, including diesel pollution from freight transport, designated as CARE zones by the Air District.

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Water for Energy: Future Water Needs for Electricity in the Intermountain West

Published: November 2011


The production of electricity, from fuel extraction to electricity generation, has growing impacts on both water availability and quality.

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