Pacific Institute

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The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security is an American non-profit research institute created in 1987 to provide independent research and policy analysis on issues of development, environment, and security, with a particular focus on global and regional freshwater issues. It is located in Oakland, California (USA).[1] The focus of the Institute is to find solutions to problems like water shortages and contamination, environmental conflicts, global climate change, and environmental terrorism. The mission of the Institute is to "conduct interdisciplinary research and partner with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity—in California, nationally, and internationally."[2]

Since its founding, the institute staff has analyzed scientific and policy issues, published papers, and provided both community and high-level policy workshops and briefings around water, climate, energy, environmental security, globalization, and more, with a special focus on issues in the hydrologic sciences, water management, and water policy. Its interdisciplinary approach is applied to resource issues, strategies for community involvement, and economic globalization, and they also address the misuse and abuse of science in the policy context.[3] The Institute has also worked on new thinking around sustainable water resources management and use.[4] In 2011, the Institute was awarded the first U.S. Water Prize. Researchers at the Institute also defined the concept of peak water.[5] The Institute's most well-known publication is The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources(published by Island Press, Washington, D.C.).[6][7][8] In 2012, the Institute produced a new book "A 21st Century U.S. Water Policy" (published by Oxford University Press).[9]

Peter Gleick co-founded and directed the institute from 1987 until mid-2016. He is now the president emeritus. He is a MacArthur Fellow and member of the National Academy of Sciences.[10]


Critics of The Pacific Institute claim that it is a radical environmentalist group that is manipulating the data to convince the public and the government to use less water, as if that is saving it when all that does is send the fresh water to the ocean to become salt water. They conduct no new science or research and depend entirely on the work of other scientists to develop their reports. One of their goals is to prevent the building of any more dams. They also believe that human interference with nature is wrong. They are funded entirely by donations which earns some of them over $140,000 a year. [11]

Here are the facts: Water used is not water wasted. When you use fresh water inside your home it goes down a drain that goes to a sewage treatment plant where the grey water is treated and pumped back into the river. If you use water outside your home it drains into the ground where some of it evaporates, which returns that water to the hydrologic cycle where it will fall as rain again, or that water seeps down and refills ground water stores. Using water does not destroy the water. Dams fill up in winter and release that water slowly over summer, so, natural rivers without a dam have an extreme high level in winter and an extreme low level in summer. With a dam the rivers then have a more moderate high and a less extreme low level in summer and that is very good for fish populations and very good for human communities. Lakes formed by dams provide habitat for fish and marine life, fresh water for animal life, they provide recreation and the dams themselves produce clean electricity and reduce the damage caused by down river flooding. [12]

Also, some communities, like the large cities in the California valley, get their water from the rivers that flow constantly year round, so, they have a constant source of fresh water. Conservation means to use less fresh water but if you don't use that water it simply flows into the ocean. That is not saving water, that is wasting it. Allowing fresh water to flow unused into the ocean just makes it salt water again. [13]

Over conservation of fresh water is, in some part, also responsible for not refilling the California ground water stores. California cities over control water use outside the home so the fresh water is flowing into the ocean instead of being used outside and flowing back into the ground to refill the ground water stores. [14]

A prime example of the Pacific Institutes attempts to confuse government and the public is that it argues that water conservation helps the riparian zone. The riparian zone is the land next to a river or stream, so, they claim that conservation of water decreases erosion of the river banks but if a city does not use river water that keeps more water in the river which increases erosion in the riparian zone. Taking water out of the river and distributing it on thousands of lawns slowly returns the water to the ground table where it eventually seeps back into the river which helps reduce riparian erosion. Dams also help with erosion of the riparian zone because they maintain a more steady down river flow of water instead of the destructive high flows that happen in winter. [15]


Institute researchers in 2014 warned that the lack of replenishment water in the Salton Sea was leading to a "period of very rapid deterioration." With the increased shrinkage, dust storms would increase and a rotten-egg smell could reach to the coastal cities.[16]


  • Awarded 2005 Excellence Award for Statewide/Institutional Innovations, California Urban Water Conservation Council
  • Awarded 2007 Top Environmental Achievement Awards for Freshwater Protection and Restoration, Environment Now Foundation
  • Recipient of the 2009 American Water Resources Association's (AWRA) "Csallany Award" for exemplary contributions to water resources
  • Recipient of 2009 Region 9 Award for Environmental Excellence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • 2011 Winner of the first U.S. Water Prize
  • Awarded in 2013 the first "Lifetime Achievement" award for Water Conservation by the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards Program.


  1. ^ "Pacific Institute: Research for People and the Planet". Pacific Institute. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "About the Pacific Institute". Pacific Institute. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ See, for example, the Institute's 2007 testimony on the integrity of science to the U.S. Congress. "Testimony of Dr. Peter Gleick" (PDF). Hearing on Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity. February 7, 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ See, for example, reports in Science [2003] and Nature [2002]: Peter Gleick, "Global Freshwater Resources: Soft-Path Solutions for the 21st Century," State of the Planet, Science 302 (November 28, 2003): 1524–28. doi:10.1126/science.1089967. "Soft Water Paths," Nature 418 (July 25, 2002): 373.
  5. ^ Gleick, Peter H.; Palaniappan, M. (2010-04-08). "Peak Water: Conceptual and Practical Limits to Freshwater Withdrawal and Use". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (25): 11155–11162. doi:10.1073/pnas.1004812107. 
  6. ^ The World's Water 2006–2007: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, by Peter H. Gleick et al. ISBN 1-59726-106-8, Island Press.
  7. ^ The World's Water 2008–2009: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, by Peter H. Gleick et al. ISBN 1597265047, Island Press.
  8. ^ The World's Water, Volume 7: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, by Peter H. Gleick et al. ISBN 1597269999, Island Press.
  9. ^ Christian-Smith, Juliet; Gleick, Peter, eds. (2012). A 21st Century U.S. Water Policy. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 334. ISBN 978-0-19-985944-3. 
  10. ^ "CV for Dr. Peter H. Gleick". Pacific Institute. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  11. ^
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  15. ^ https://
  16. ^ Perry, Tony (November 21, 2014) "'Looming environmental crisis' at Salton Sea prompts plea for help" Los Angeles Times

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