FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [Posted 11/18/03]
Contact: Ian Hart, 510-251-1600 or ihart
California Can Slake its Thirst via Efficiency, Conservation
Water Now Wasted is the Best, Fastest, and Cleanest Source for
OAKLAND, CALIF -- The largest, least expensive, and most environmentally
sound source of water to meet California's future needs is the water
currently being wasted in every sector of our economy. That's the
core message of a major new report on urban water use in California
released today by the Pacific Institute of Oakland, California.
"Waste Not, Want Not: The Potential for Urban Water Conservation
in California," in preparation for three years, is the first
report to look comprehensively at residential, commercial, institutional,
and industrial water use in the state -- and then evaluate the potential
for reducing this use through conservation and efficiency.
"After three years of research, we've found that California
can cut it's urban water use by a third through efficient technology,
simple changes in policy, and improved public education,"
said Dr. Peter H. Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute,
a 2003 MacArthur Fellow, and lead author of the report. "What
this means is that we can avoid new, expensive, and environmentally
destructive water projects and still meet California's future
needs -- even if California's population and economy grow as expected."
Despite the progress California has already made in improving
water efficiency, "Waste Not, Want Not" estimates that
up to one-third of California's current urban water use -- more
than 2.3 million acre-feet -- can be saved using existing technology.
And at least 85% of this savings (over 2 million acre-feet) can
be saved at costs below what it will cost to tap into new sources
of supply and without the social, environmental, and economic
impacts that any major water project will bring.
"California's current water use is not sustainable,"
explained Dana Haasz, a report author, expert in water efficiency,
and senior researcher at the Pacific Institute. "But the
good news is, we don't have to let our lawns go brown or take
short showers to cut water use. Currently available water-efficient
technology can help us save water without sacrificing our quality
of life. And saving water saves money, cuts water pollution, and
reduces energy use -- making our air and water cleaner."
Technology still in development is expected to bring further
savings, but the report looks mainly at well-tested tools like
low-flush toilets, efficient clothes washers, and improved outdoor
efficiency. The report also looks at changes in policy and pricing,
public education, and new techniques for commercial, industrial,
and institutional water users.
"Saving water is a win for water agencies, a win for our
environment, and a win for consumers," noted Dr. Gary H.
Wolff, a senior economist with the Pacific Institute and the author
of the report's economic analysis. "When you account for
the other benefits that flow from saving water -- like lower energy
bills, reduced landscaping costs, and a reduction in waste water
-- water efficiency measures become very cost-effective, and in
some cases are worth doing even if water is free. Our detailed
economic analyses show that myths and misunderstandings -- not
economics -- are the biggest barriers to improving our water use