An Equitable Water Future

Water shapes economic growth, the environment, and the very social fabric of our communities. Ensuring that all people have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and wastewater systems is the cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous nation. Through this project, the US Water Alliance explores how water management impacts vulnerable communities, and spotlights promising strategies and practices that have emerged to make water systems more equitable.

Vulnerable communities face an array of water-related challenges: affordability, lack of infrastructure, water quality issues, and the impacts of a changing climate. The impacts of water stress on public health and economic mobility are compounded by underlying challenges such as poverty and unemployment. At the same time, progress is happening on multiple fronts. Utilities are implementing low-income assistance programs, workforce development strategies, and neighborhood revitalization projects. Community-based organizations are building local capacity to engage in water planning and policy making. Environmental organizations are incorporating community considerations into their ecological work. A growing number of philanthropic organizations are bringing equitable water strategies into their investment portfolios. Businesses are engaging in efforts to restore watersheds and enrich communities. Research institutions are partnering with communities to explore the complex interconnections between water, climate, and socioeconomic vulnerability.

The US Water Alliance has developed a national briefing paper to expand national understanding of the water-related challenges that vulnerable communities face, and the opportunities to leverage water investment to build a society and economy that works for everyone. The paper is inspired and informed by the contributions of diverse stakeholders—utility managers, policymakers, community leaders, direct service providers, and more. It presents strategies and approaches for building equitable, sustainable water systems that create opportunity for all.

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