More than 1 million Californians are affected by unsafe or
unreliable sources of water for cooking, drinking and bathing.
They can lose access to water supplies when their wells run dry,
especially during drought when groundwater is relied on more
heavily and the water table drops. Employment disruptions caused
by the COVID-19 pandemic can impair their ability to pay water
bills on time. Communities of color are most often burdened by
Below you’ll find the latest news articles raising
awareness on efforts to seek water equity written by the staff at
the Water Education Foundation and other organizations that were
posted in our Aquafornia news aggregate.
In the midst of the pandemic and recession, the cost of
delivering safe drinking water continues to rise across
California, creating a crisis of affordability for water users
and a revenue problem for water suppliers. PPIC talked
to Robert Shaver—board chair for the California Urban
Water Agencies (CUWA) and general manager of the Alameda County
Water District—about how the state’s largest public water
agencies are thinking about this issue.
California regulators sent a survey on Monday to 150 of the
state’s largest water providers in an attempt to shed light on
the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The State
Water Resources Control Board wants to know how economic
slowdowns related to the virus have affected utility finances
and, at a household level, how many residents have overdue
An estimated 1 million Californians,
living in economically stressed pockets of the state, face
daunting challenges in obtaining clean and affordable water to
drink, addressing sanitation or stormwater needs, and gaining the
help to do so. Across the state, efforts are underway to provide
help. The goal is to do so in a way that allows members of
disadvantaged communities to express their needs and wants, set
priorities and obtain the technical assistance necessary to begin
to solve their challenges.
This handbook is intended as a resource for anyone in, or
involved with, communities throughout the state that have
historically struggled to make their water resource needs known
to agencies with the power to help.
Out of sight and out of mind to most
people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has
challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the
desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body
inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking
The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and
Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate
management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the
Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial
Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water
allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the
district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.
Each day, people living on the streets and camping along waterways across California face the same struggle – finding clean drinking water and a place to wash and go to the bathroom.
Some find friendly businesses willing to help, or public restrooms and drinking water fountains. Yet for many homeless people, accessing the water and sanitation that most people take for granted remains a daily struggle.
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
As the Colorado River Basin becomes
drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains:
How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?
Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and
its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it
to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full
federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights
claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights
to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.
More than a decade in the making, an
ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and
nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of
the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its
authors are not who you might expect.
An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water
agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for
years to find common ground to address a set of problems that
have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually
unusable for farming.
Joaquin Esquivel learned that life is
what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public
member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in
Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington
D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a
year ago to fill the Board vacancy.
Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several
capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as
assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California
Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board,
he shares with four other members the difficult task of
ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water.
A new study could help water
agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless
face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and
The Santa Ana Watershed Project
Authority (SAWPA) in Southern California has embarked on a
comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at assessing
strengths and needs as it relates to water services for people
(including the homeless) within its 2,840 square-mile area that
extends from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Orange County