Safe, affordable, and accessible water and sanitation are prerequisites for people to live healthy, dignified, and productive lives. In 2010, the United Nations formally recognized the right of all human beings to have sufficient, safe, affordable, and accessible water and sanitation. But today, 2.1 billion people still lack safe drinking water and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services.

The Pacific Institute focuses on expanding universal access to water and sanitation, highlighting populations in the United States and abroad who lack these basic services. In the United States, our work has focused on underserved populations in California. Internationally, we work with the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and with international non-governmental groups to tackle these needs. As Co-Secretariat of the CEO Water Mandate, we provide a platform for businesses to support hygiene and sanitation services in their supply chains and in the communities they operate in, towards the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 — universal access to these basic needs by 2030.

Assessing Water Affordability: A Pilot Study in Two Regions of California

Published: August 2013


A pilot study in California showed that many households, even within affluent communities, routinely spent over the affordability threshold of two percent of their household income on their water bill. The number of water systems with “unaffordable” rates varied by region and measure used, with important implications for policymakers.

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Water Service Disconnections in California

Published: October 2018


When a person fails to pay their water utility bill, their water service can be disconnected. Lack of water in the home compromises health, and renders housing legally uninhabitable and untenantable. Shutoffs also pose a financial burden; in addition to the original debt, there are usually fees associated with late payment, notice of an impending shutoff, and service reconnection.

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