10 Multi-Benefit Resources


The Untapped Potential of California’s Water Supply: Efficiency, Reuse, and Stormwater – Issue Brief

Author: Gleick et al., Pacific Institute, NRDC (2014)
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Increased pressures on California’s water supply, including from population growth and intense periods of drought exacerbated by climate change, are leading to the overuse of surface water and groundwater. But with existing technology and conservation methods, the state can take vital steps to improve its resilience to drought and plan for a more sustainable water future. This issue brief, produced in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, is a statewide analysis of the potential for improved efficiency in agricultural and urban water use, water reuse and recycling, and increased capturing of local rainwater.

Embedded Energy in Water Studies 1, 2 and 3

Author: California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) (2010)
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CPUCs Embedded Energy in Water Studies provide a California statewide assessment of energy use by the water sector and energy use by water customers. There are three separate reports, each including supporting appendices and materials, that document methodology, data collection, case studies, and findings of the investigation.

Co-benefits Assessment Methodology for Water Savings

Author: California Air Resources Board (2018)
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Co-benefits Assessment Methodology for Water Savings presents three different water co-benefit assessment methods for three types of projects from the California Climate Investments. The three project types are agricultural irrigation, residential, commercial, or institutional water efficiency, and urban landscaping. The assessment methods are presented from a California perspective, however, the same methods could be applied in different locations with appropriate modifications for climate and other relevant factors.

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Author: Cooley, Christian-Smith, & Gleick, Pacific Institute (2009)
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Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future examines the potential for agricultural efficiency in California. The report qualitatively and quantitatively explores the potential for water conservation and efficiency under the following management strategies: 1) efficient irrigation technology, 2) improved irrigation scheduling, and 3) regulated deficit irrigation. All three options show significant water savings as well as provide various co-benefits including, reduced water and energy costs, improved crop quality and yield,improved soil health, reduced vulnerability to drought, increased revenues, improved water quality, improved quantity and timing of instream flows, and fish and wildlife benefits.

Leveraging Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture via Desalination: Evidence from a Macro-Data Case Study in Israel

Author: Raveh & Ben-Gal, (2018)
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Leveraging Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture via Desalination: Evidence from a Macro-Data Case Study in Israel examines the effects of desalinated water on agricultural crops in Israel. The study presents data on salt levels in different agricultural crops before and after watering with desalination plant water. The results showed measurable and significant decreases in sodium (Na), chloride (Cl), and magnesium (Mg) compared to when the crops were watered using irrigation. This reduction of salts in the crops provides a benefit because the high levels of salts in irrigated water sources was causing crop health issues.

Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California

Author: NRDC, Pacific Institute (2014)
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Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California outlines the benefits of improving agricultural efficiency in California. The benefits cited include reduced consumptive use, improved water quality and instream flow, energy savings, increased yields, improved crop quality, reduced fertilizer, water, and energy costs, improved reliability of existing supplies, management flexibility, improved downstream water quality, and enhanced recreation.

Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply

Author: Cohen, Nelson, & Wolff, NRDC, Pacific Institute (2004)
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Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply analyzes the connections between power and water resources in California. The report presents several key findings: 1) water conservation lowers energy use and energy bills, 2) water recycling is a highly energy efficient water source, 3) retiring agricultural land may increase energy use if the water is transferred to other agricultural or urban uses, 4) Retiring agricultural land can save energy if the water is dedicated to the environment, and 5) diverting water above dams costs an enormous amount of power and money. Based on these findings it is recommended that decision makers better integrate energy into water policy decision-making, as well as give water conservation higher priority.

Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach

Author: Gleick, Smith, & Cooley, (2011)
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Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach is a response to a paper in Water International. The paper highlights major components of inefficient water use that were ignored, examines water productivity rather than just water efficiency, and discusses co-benefits. The co-benefits of water-use efficiency examined are improved water quality, increased production, improved water supply reliability, decreased energy demands, and reduced or delayed infrastructure investments.

Water Efficiency for Instream Flow: Making the Link in Practice

Author: Alliance for Water Efficiency, American Rivers, Environmental Law Institute (2011)
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Water Efficiency for Instream Flow: Making the Link in Practice examines the potential for linking water efficiency efforts to improving instream flows within the Colorado River Basin. The report concludes that improving water efficiency can allow for population and economic growth without requiring a large investment in new or expanded water supplies or wastewater. It also concludes that environment and state regulatory requirements can drive water efficiency efforts. The report includes a qualitative discussion on the following benefits: reduced surface or groundwater withdrawals, operational flexibility for water utility, and instream flows.

California Water Plan, Update 2009, Volume 2: Resource Management Strategies

Author: California Department of Water Resources (2009)
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The California Water Plan presents a guide on water management strategies that can provide multiple benefits both regionally and statewide in California. The management strategies are organized by goals, such as reducing water demand, improving operational efficiency, or improving water quality, and the benefits are categorized under water supply, drought preparedness, water quality, operational flexibility, flood impacts, environmental benefits, energy benefits, recreation, and groundwater overdraft risk. The report also includes guidance on the quantitative analysis of multiple benefits for policymakers and water resource managers.