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Pacific Institute Water Policy Catalysts Flooded with Environmental Award Praise

2009 May 14

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team in for 10 years and is Co-Chair of EPA’s Green Building Workgroup.

Water supplies and management have long been a hot topic out west, and the Pacific Institute, an EPA Pacific Southwest Region Environmental Award winner has done incredible work to develop sustainable water policy.

Agriculture accounts for 80% of California Delta water consumption, and in 2008, drought and legally mandated water pumping restrictions resulted in farm losses that were estimated as high as $245 million by mid-summer.

image of report cover
Click on the Report cover above to read the report.

In 2008, a Pacific Institute report, “More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California – A Special Focus on the Delta,” altered the approach to California’s water crisis. The researchers found potential water savings in the agricultural sector can reach 0.6-3.4 million acre feet of water—the equivalent of 3 to 20 new dams–without harming agricultural production or the economy.

This work has been catalytic—creating discussion around non-infrastructure oriented solutions that have long been absent from water policy discussions in California.

The Pacific Institute project team – Heather Cooley, Juliet Christian-Smith, and Peter Gleick -did much more than stimulate discussion, they influenced decision making processes with sound science, met with the California Board of Food and Agriculture and the Governor’s Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and briefed more than 60 State legislators and staff.

The Pacific Institute’s leadership has changed the search for water solutions from physical answers—more dams, more reservoirs, and more conveyance—to the better management of the vital resources we do have to ensure a safe, reliable water supply in the face of a growing population, increasing threats of climate change, and environmental degradation.

Read the Report – it’s as refreshing as a cool glass of water!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. joe blow permalink
    May 16, 2009

    does california have any current water policies that are not effective or helpful to crop and farm lands?
    im doing a very important reserch report for my college class and i dont know any existing policies regarding agriculture water useage

  2. Timonie Hood permalink
    May 26, 2009

    California has a wide range of current water policies related to farm lands. You can learn more at:

    California Department of Water Resources

    State Water Reources Control Board

    Aquafornia: California’s Waternews Blog (includes research and publications)

    The Water Education Foundation (CA)

    These documents may also be helpful:

    “Finding the Balance – A Vision for Water Supply and Environmental Reality in California,” Environmental Defense (2008)

    “California Water Stewards: Innovative On-farm Water Management Practices,” California Institute for Rural Studies (January 2009)

    EPA supported the development of this Farmer’s Guide to Agriculture and Water Quality Issues

    In addition, the award-winning Pacific Insitute has numerous other publications that may be helpful:

    Good luck with your research!

  3. Adrienne Priselac permalink
    May 28, 2009

    Thanks for pointing out this excellent resource. When the Delta Vision task force discusses long-term strategies for this vital water resource are they considering removal of some of the levees, in whole or part, to enhance habitat and the Delta’s natural ability to remove pollutants from agriculture and other nonpoint sources? Thanks!

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