Equitable Water Access: Information & Resources
Learn about equitable water access and find helpful articles, book recommendations, reports and more
Some people in California and across the West struggle to access safe, reliable and affordable water to meet their everyday needs for drinking, cooking and sanitation. In some cases, people are left without water as wells run dry in the midst of drought, or have little to no access at all to running water. Communities of color are most often burdened by these challenges.
The Water Education Foundation has put together a list of resources and background information to keep you informed about issues of water equity in California and the West.
Do you have a related resource to share for this page? Get in touch with our Programs and Communication Manager Sarah Angulo.
What Is Equitable Water Access:
An estimated 1 million Californians, living in economically stressed pockets of the state, face daunting challenges in obtaining clean and affordable water to drink or addressing sanitation or stormwater needs. Many of these people live in rural, isolated communities with vulnerable wells and without connections to larger water providers. Others live in impoverished urban areas, in homeless encampments, or economically depressed areas. These communities must rely on bottled water or unreliable and unsafe water sources.
Read our Aquapedia page on disadvantaged communities
In California, state government has responded through actions such as the 2012 Human Right to Water law — which declared that every person has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water as a matter of state policy — and the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in 2020, which is intended to fund drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities that do not have that access. But much work remains to be done.
Browse Our Water Equity Newsfeed:
Find the latest news on water equity from our Western Water articles and other organization’s articles posted in our weekday Aquafornia news aggregate. You can also browse our newsfeed specifically on tribal water issues.
List of Resources:
- Solving Water Challenges in Disadvantaged Communities (Water Education Foundation)
Reports and Statutes
- Assembly Bill 685: California’s Human Right to Water Bill (California State Legislature)
- Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States (Dig Deep and US Water Alliance)
- Water/Color: A Study of Race and the Water Affordability Crisis in American Cities (Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Thurgood Marshall Institute)
- Achieving Water Equity in California: Restructuring Water Management, Governance & Engagement (Report of the 2021 Water Leaders Class, Water Education Foundation)
Water Education Foundation’s Western Water Articles
- Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills: Read article.
- Long Criticized for Inaction at Salton Sea, California Says It’s All-In on Effort to Preserve State’s Largest Lake: Read article.
- Can Providing Bathrooms to Homeless Protect California’s Water Quality? Read article.
- California Officials Draft a $600m Plan to Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills: Read article.
- As Shortages Loom in the Colorado River Basin, Indian Tribes Seek to Secure Their Water Rights: Read article.
- Vexed by Salt and Nitrates in Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn to Unusual Coalition for Solutions: Read article.
- One Year In, A New State Policymaker Assesses the Salton Sea, Federal Relations and California’s Thorny Water Issues: Read article.
- Researchers Aim to Give Homeless a Voice in Southern California Watershed: Read article.
- Millions of Dollars Needed to Help Low-Income Ratepayers with Water Bills, State Water Board Told: Read article.
- Water Talk (University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources)
- A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy by Juliet Christian-Smith, Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley, Lucy Allen, Amy Vanderwarker, Kate A. Berry (see chapter on Water and Environmental Justice)
- Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality by Professor Robert D. Bullard
- What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Websites and Maps
- Human Right to Water Data Tool: CalHRTW 1.0 (California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment)
- State Water Resources Control Board Racial Equity Initiative
- Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all (United Nations)
Stay Updated on All Water Issues:
- Aquafornia: Our daily, curated roundup of water news includes articles related to water equity in the West.
- Aquapedia: Our website has a variety of resources for information on water issues in California & beyond, including Aquapedia, our encyclopedia of water terms.
- Western Water news: Catch up on our in-depth coverage of water issues in California and the West.