California recognizes a human right to safe, affordable drinking water. However, small and disadvantaged communities may find it especially challenging to fund the water systems necessary to achieve this goal, and low-income households around the state may be forced to choose between paying for water and paying for other necessities.
This initiative seeks to improve policy options for expanding affordability and access to clean water in the face of state and local funding constraints.
Water system consolidations can create economies of scale that help address persistent water system inadequacies in small and disadvantaged communities. More than 100 consolidation projects have been completed or are ongoing in California, and many more communities are likely to pursue consolidations in the future. While consolidation offers many potential benefits for communities served by unreliable water systems, the costs and benefits associated with different consolidation options have not been well documented. This synthesis of our March 2018 workshop enumerates barriers to effective consolidations and identifies potential solutions for overcoming those barriers.