Issues We Work On
Water and Environmental Justice
Inequities in access to safe, affordable water and the decision-making processes that guide water management and distribution have given rise to environmental justice efforts led by affected communities. With our longstanding commitment to water solutions that advance environmental justice, the Pacific Institute partners with community-based organizations and coalitions working on water justice issues, providing technical assistance, carrying out research projects, and facilitating capacity-building on issues, techniques, and policy.
As a founding and ongoing member of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, the Pacific Institute hosted the coalition for several years and has collaborated on a number of policy research efforts. In 2009, the Institute convened a dozen leaders from grassroots environmental justice organizations working on water issues from the Navajo Nation to Detroit, to Washington D.C. The convening lead to several research initiatives including a chapter on water and environmental justice in the Institute’s 2012 book A Twenty-first Century US Water Policy. In 2010 the Institute launched a partnership with the Community Water Center to research the impact of nitrate-contaminated drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a persistent public health challenge that disproportionately affects Latino low-income communities. The research analyzed community water systems with nitrate-contaminated water, the adequacy of drinking water projects, and the economic impact on households without safe tap water. More recently, the Institute trained members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe in northern California to use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices to map their sacred sites.
The Institute continues to partner with community organizations to bring its technical and policy research expertise to bear on pressing water justice issues. Involving staff from multiple programs, this work cuts across local, national, and international boundaries and focuses on a range of water quality, sanitation, and drinking water challenges facing low-income communities and communities of color.