Solutions for Underperforming Drinking Water Systems in California

October 29, 2020, Oakland, California – The Pacific Institute just announced the release of a report that identifies solutions for water systems in California that are failing to provide safe drinking water for their residents. The report also includes lessons learned from these underperforming water systems that can be applied to the rest of the nation.

California passed the Human Right to Water in 2012, acknowledging that every resident has a right to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Yet this is not always the case. Across the state, both large and small water systems currently struggle to provide safe drinking water, with small systems facing the greatest challenges. Many of these small systems primarily serve underserved communities that have limited funds and resources.

“Helping small water systems comply with safe drinking water standards can move California closer to achieving the Human Right to Water,” says report co-author Morgan Shimabuku. “This is even more urgent now as California and the world grapple with the consequences of the COVID‐19 pandemic.”

Solutions for Underperforming Drinking Water Systems in California finds that the solutions with greatest value for investment are operational, treatment, source water, and partnership-based solutions.

Consolidation and regionalization offer significant, positive approaches to addressing challenges faced by small water systems, especially when implemented through a unified strategy and systematic approach. It concludes that a state-level strategy to improve the drinking water quality of small water systems would optimize resources and improve results. Additionally, assessing water quality issues holistically would enable stakeholders to make significant improvements to drinking water quality for small water systems.

The report was produced by the Water Research Foundation, in partnership with California Urban Water Agencies and the Pacific Institute.

Learn more about the report here.