Water Equity Clearinghouse

Oakland Climate Action Coalition

Oakland, CA

The Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) is a coalition of over 30 community-based, faith, labor, and environmental advocacy organizations with a dedicated focus on clean energy, better transportation systems, safe and affordable housing, local food systems, clean air and water, green jobs, communities resilient to climate impacts, and social equity in all sectors of development.

One of OCAC’s main achievements is the adoption of Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP) in 2012, which was created in conjunction with the city. OCAC ensured that there was a strong focus on the social and economic needs of the communities most vulnerable to climate change. The Plan outlines four committees that address the needs of these lower-income communities through adaptation, food justice, transportation and land use, and renewable energy.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

OCAC’s Resilience and Adaptation Committee works directly with communities to connect residents with information that allows them to build resilience within their own neighborhoods. These resources help people understand how flooding and other impacts from climate change may affect them and their families, and also gives them information about viable solutions with additional benefits, such as green infrastructure. Green infrastructure has major potential, not only for flood mitigation through stormwater management, but for job creation and economic development opportunities.

One such resource is a Climate Resilience Fact Sheet that assesses local climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation efforts. These resources provide residents with tips and ideas on how to better prepare for impacts from flooding, rising water costs, water scarcity, and other hazardous conditions.

OCAC also works with research institutions to identify solutions to major problems brought on by climate change. A study published in 2012 in partnership with the Pacific Institute, Community-Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California, seeks to inform cities on how to lead an inclusive and equitable movement towards climate change resilience. With regard to water equity, the study explores different options to address the rising cost of utilities such as drinking water. Among these solutions are incentive programs to promote installation of water efficient appliances and fixtures, programs to reduce financial hardship of increased water costs on residents, and urban renewal projects that yield a number of community benefits. The report is written with a strong theme of social justice and frequently considers how programs and initiatives can benefit lower-income communities that find themselves more vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, and rising utility costs.