Pacific Institute Water Policy Catalysts Flooded with Environmental Award Praise

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.

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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!