Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed

Posted on:

Published: February 2019
Authors: Heather Cooley, Anne Thebo, Cora Kammeyer, Sonali Abraham, Charles Gardiner, Martha Davis
Pages: 54

Pressures on water resources are intensifying due to aging infrastructure, population growth, and climate change, among other factors. With vast expanses of water-intensive turf grass and large impervious surfaces, most urbanized communities are ill-adapted to these pressures.

This study finds that there are significant opportunities for the business community in California’s Santa Ana River Watershed to contribute to shared watershed goals through investments in sustainable landscape practices on their properties. These landscapes can improve surface water quality, flood management, and water supply reliability, while also reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon, improving ecosystem and human health, promoting economic activity, and enhancing community resilience. While focused on the Santa Ana River Watershed, the project approach and findings are relevant to urban communities around the world.

The project includes an interactive mapping tool that allows users to explore the potential benefits of sustainable landscaping practices across the Santa Ana River Watershed. This project is a collaboration between the Pacific Institute, California Forward, the CEO Water Mandate, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.

Read the full report here.

Read the Executive Summary here.

View the interactive mapping tool here.

Measuring Progress Toward Universal Access to Water and Sanitation in California: Defining Goals, Indicators, and Performance Measures

Posted on:

Published: September 2018
Author: Laura Feinstein
Pages: 73

In 2012, California’s Human Right to Water was passed, calling for safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water for all citizens. Yet while this statute has served as the touchstone for drinking water and sanitation efforts in the state, access to this basic right remains unrealized in many California communities.

This report from the Pacific Institute investigates what realizing the human right to water in California would mean in terms that are concrete, measurable, and aligned with prevailing laws and norms in the state. The approach the author develops is modeled after the service ladder framework employed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for monitoring progress toward water and sanitation internationally. It offers a range of service levels as a way of measuring progress, and differentiating between the large numbers of people who experience moderate problems and the small numbers with acute problems. The ladders create broad classes of service levels that facilitate communication of broad patterns of variation and identify high-priority areas for policy interventions.

Read the Executive Summary here.

Read the full report here.


Watch the ‘Measuring Access to Water and Sanitation in California’ presentation by Laura Feinstein on youtube

View the youtube presentation in pdf format here.


Appendix 1, California Service Ladders for Measuring the Human Right to Water and Sanitation
Appendix II, Data Sources For Performance Measures on Water and Sanitation

Integrating Water Efficiency into Long‐Term Demand Forecasting

Posted on:

Published: August 2018
Authors: Sarah Diringer, Heather Cooley, Matthew Heberger, Rapichan Phurisamban, Kristina Donnelly, Andrea Turner, John McKibbin, and Mary Ann Dickinson
Page: 172

Per capita water use in the United States has fallen by more than 40% since the 1970s. In some areas, reductions in per capita water use have offset continued population and economic growth, such that total water use has remained constant or even declined. A key driver in reducing per capita water demand is the greater uptake of water efficient appliances and fixtures.

Many demand forecasts do not adequately account for efficiency improvements and the resulting changes in per capita water usage, thereby overestimating future water demand. Overestimating future water demand can, for example, result in millions of dollars of unnecessary expenditures, loss of consumer confidence and goodwill, and adverse impacts on system water quality and local economies.

This report aims to help water planners and managers improve the reliability of long-term water demand forecasts by more accurately accounting for factors likely to affect future demand, including building codes, efficiency standards, and third-party certification programs.

The report was produced by researchers at the Pacific Institute, Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency. It was published by the Water Research Foundation.

View the webinar “Integrating Water Efficiency into Long-Term Demand Forecasting” here.

Download the Executive Summary here.

Water Research Foundation subscribers can download the entire report here.


Water, Security, and Conflict

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Published: August 2018
Authors: Peter Gleick and Charles Iceland
Pages: 16

This issue brief summarizes the current understanding of water and security threats and their links to conflict, migration, and food insecurity. The authors review the key drivers behind growing water risk, describe and illustrate water and security pathways, and present approaches for reducing water related risks to global security.

The brief is the result of a joint project between the Pacific Institute and the World Resources Institute and part of the Pacific Institute’s ongoing work on water and conflict. It aims to provide professionals in the defense, diplomacy, and development fields with knowledge to inform proactive policies and action that can be enacted before crises erupt.

Read the issue brief here.

Stormwater Capture in California: Innovative Policies and Funding Opportunities

Posted on:

Published: June 2018
Authors: Morgan Shimabuku, Sarah Diringer, and Heather Cooley
Pages: 33

Stormwater has traditionally been managed to mitigate flooding and protect water quality. However, its potential as a local water supply has gained recent attention in water-stressed areas. As climate change increases the risk of both floods and droughts in California, urban stormwater capture also offers a significant opportunity to enhance community resilience. Moreover, stormwater capture, especially when done with green infrastructure, can improve air quality, provide habitat, and reduce energy use, among other benefits.  

State agencies have made major efforts to support stormwater capture, from adopting statewide stormwater use goals to clarifying the regulatory framework and dedicating funds for green infrastructure and multi-benefit stormwater projects. This report presents a summary of regulations, laws, and statewide initiatives that create the legal framework for stormwater capture in California. In addition, the report explores examples of successful stormwater programs, initiatives, and funding schemes from communities in California and beyond that directly and indirectly support stormwater capture and use. It concludes with a set of recommendations to overcome obstacles and expand stormwater capture in the state.

Read the Executive Summary here.

Read the full report here.

A Survey of Efforts to Achieve Universal Access to Water and Sanitation in California

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Published: April 19, 2018
Authors: Kena Cador and Angélica Salceda
Pages: 38

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. Two years later, in 2012, California became the first state in the nation to enact legislation recognizing the human right to water for consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. This statute has served as the touchstone for drinking water and sanitation efforts in the state.

A Survey of Efforts to Achieve Universal Access to Water and Sanitation in California, by the ACLU of Northern California and the Pacific Institute, provides a comprehensive overview of efforts of state agencies and non-governmental stakeholders to advance implementation of the human right to water in California. It identifies challenges to universal access and explores potential solutions, including improving data collection on onsite wastewater treatment systems, such as septic, and making the right to sanitation explicit.

Read the Executive Summary here.

Read the full report here.

Corporate Engagement on Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene: Driving Progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) Through Supply-Chains and Voluntary Standards

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Published: August 21, 2017
Author: WaterAid, WBCSD, Water Witness International, and the CEO Water Mandate (a project of the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute)
Pages: 18

This report recognizes the need for successful corporate water stewardship to encompass sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for workers in company supply chains, and offers steps for companies to take to help end the global water and sanitation crisis.

Corporate Engagement on Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene: Driving Progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) Through Supply-Chains and Voluntary Standards finds that socio-economic water risks to business can only be mitigated when there is universal and sustainable access to WASH for workers. Significant potential for progressive action on WASH through corporate supply chains exists, depending on the supply chains’ reach and scale, locations in supply countries with high gaps in WASH access, and links to under-served communities. Corporate action on WASH can drive improved access for vulnerable communities, as well as economic and social development.

The report outlines steps companies can take to improve WASH in their supply chains:

  • Sign and implement the WBCSD WASH at the workplace pledge ensuring that all employees in direct operations have access to safe WASH while at work.
  • Broaden and deepen employee and company understanding about WASH by providing them with the International Labour Organization’s WASH@Work Self-training handbook.
  • Update supplier codes; a draft set of criteria for optimal water, sanitation, and hygiene provision in supply chains is available for pilot testing by companies.
  • Contribute to strengthening the business case for WASH by offering opportunities for evidence-gathering from their operations and projects.
  • Learn about and engage in the WASH4Work initiative, working with a group of agencies, companies, and development partners to address the WASH challenge.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

View and download the full report in English here.
Spanish   Portuguese   French

Three associated case studies showcase the challenges and successes of WASH4Work in action at three multinational companies: Diageo, Gap Inc., and Nestlé:

Corporate Action on WASH in Supply Chains Case Study: Diageo
English   Spanish   Portuguese   French

Corporate Action on WASH in Supply Chains Case Study: Gap Inc.
English   Spanish   Portuguese   French

Corporate Action on WASH in Supply Chains Case Study: Nestle
English   Spanish   Portuguese   French


Impacts of California’s Five-Year (2012-2016) Drought on Hydroelectricity Generation

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Published: April 26, 2017
Author: Peter Gleick
Pages: 16

impactThe severe five-year drought afflicting California between 2012 and 2016 was the driest and hottest in the instrumental record. Impacts of California’s Five-Year (2012-2016) Drought on Hydroelectricity Generation examines the costs to California of lost hydroelectricity during the drought, which stretched from October 2011 to the end of September 2016 (the official California “water year” runs from October 1 to September 30).

Under normal conditions, electricity for the state’s millions of users is produced from a blend of many sources, with natural gas and hydropower being the top two. During the drought, reductions to state river flows that power hundreds of hydropower stations meant that natural gas became a more prominent player in the mix. This was an expensive change.

According to the report, the five years of drought led to an increase in electricity costs of approximately $2.45 billion. The additional combustion of fossil fuels for electric generation led to a 10 percent increase in the release of carbon dioxide from California power plants.

In addition, the report notes that the ability to expand California’s hydroelectric capacity is limited, as there are few undammed rivers, little unallocated water, and growing environmental, economic, and political constraints to adding new hydropower capacity. In an average year, hydropower provides 18% of the state’s electricity needs.

Comparatively, during the five-year period from October 2011 through the end of September 2016, hydropower generation averaged 10.5% of total electricity generation. In 2015, the driest year, hydropower provided less than seven percent of total electricity generated in-state, while in 2016, an increase in precipitation increased hydropower generation to around 12 percent.

Read the Full Report here.


Exploring the Case for Corporate Context-Based Water Targets

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Published: April 12, 2017
Authors: CDP, CEO Water Mandate (a project of the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact), The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute, and WWF
Pages: 28

contextMore companies than ever before are setting water targets, yet global water stress continues to rise. How can companies ensure that their water targets align with meaningful outcomes?

In this discussion paper, CDP, CEO Water Mandate (a project of the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and WWF call for a new approach for setting meaningful corporate water targets that take into account the unique local contexts of the basins in which companies operate.

Since water issues are primarily local, each basin has unique challenges that need to be considered when managing its water resources. Context-based metrics and targets recognize the particular challenges present in each basin, allowing for physical and social thresholds and tracking water use relative to basin thresholds and availability. In order to be effective, besides addressing site-specific concerns, context-based water metrics and targets should include input from local stakeholders, be informed by contextual social needs, make the best use of available science, and align with local and global public policy objectives.

This context-based approach is not only necessary for protecting water resources, it also offer business value. Such an approach would help drive corporate alignment with effective public policy water goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

View and download the full report here.

Drinking Fountains and Public Health: Improving National Water Infrastructure to Rebuild Trust and Ensure Access

Posted on:

Published: February 27, 2017
Authors: Rapichan Phurisamban and Peter Gleick
Pages: 18

dfphPublic drinking fountains are disappearing across the U.S., yet many people – including children, commuters, joggers, tourists, and the homeless – rely on them for cheap, accessible, and safe municipal water. Concerns over drinking water quality and possible disease transmission as well as widely-publicized water contamination incidents are both contributing factors in the decline. Are drinking fountains truly a cause of illness? What would it take to rebuild public trust in this important water infrastructure so drinking fountains can continue to be a safe, accessible resource for those who rely on them?

In this Pacific Institute report, the authors examine epidemiology studies and other evidence of drinking fountain-related health issues. They find limited evidence of a causal relationship between illness and the use of drinking fountains. Further, problems that were identified can be traced to contamination from poor cleaning and maintenance or from old water infrastructure in buildings, rather than contamination at the point of use, and these problems can be fixed.

To ensure the safety and continuance of this valuable public resource, the report authors recommend:

  • Establishing comprehensive monitoring and testing of all drinking fountains;
  • Developing and implementing standard protocols for water fountain maintenance, repair, and replacement;
  • Creating broad nationwide efforts to replace old water infrastructure, especially distribution and plumbing systems, with modern piping to eliminate sources of lead, copper, and microbial contamination;
  • Upgrading the type and function of older drinking fountains, for example, by installing filters;
  • Greatly increasing the number of fountains to improve access to municipal water in public places;
  • Engaging municipalities, schools, park districts, and others responsible for drinking fountains in communications efforts to help rebuild public confidence in fountains;
  • Using new tools to compile and distribute information on where to find drinking fountains and to assess and report on their condition.

These actions would help ensure that drinking fountains remain clean, safe, and accessible to the public.

Read the full report here.

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