Community-driven Water Solutions in California's Central Valley - Community Water Center

Formed in 2006, the Community Water Center (CWC) is a grassroots organization in California’s Central Valley that works to combat water insecurity in frontline communities through community organizing, policy advocacy and public education to influence water governance and decision making. Many residents of the Central Valley are from low income, predominantly Latinx communities that deal with water scarcity, groundwater contamination, or a lack of proper infrastructure. CWC provides technical and legal assistance for frontline communities, training residents as clean water advocates and helping to secure funding for sustainable drinking water projects. Through the education and empowerment of community members, CWC works to not just provide short-term aid to communities but also support long-term structures that help low income communities get access to safe, clean and affordable water.

Residents of the Central Valley, many of which are low income communities of color, face serious challenges in accessing water resources. It is estimated that more than one million people in California are exposed to contaminated water both in public and private places. 

Until long-term systems can be developed, CWC provides short-term assistance to communities that are experiencing drought, groundwater contamination, or have inadequate infrastructure. These short-term solutions include vending machines, filters for taps, testing of wells, and bottled water delivery to help frontline communities in the Central Valley get affordable and reliable access to clean water and water treatment. CWC has worked with 80 water stressed communities in the Valley and helped secure $17 million in state funding.

CWC also provides education and organizational support for communities, advocating for greater involvement in water decisionmaking processes among low-income communities of color. In 2009, CWC published an educational Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy in both English and Spanish. It has also trained thousands of residents as clean water advocates and provides legal assistance to local water boards and community organizations that are aiming to manage their own water systems. CWC additionally coordinates the coalition la Asociación de Gente Unida por el Agua (AGUA), a group comprised of representatives from impacted communities, non profit organizations, and community organizations that are all focused on determining the root causes of unsafe and unaffordable water for local communities.

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  • Communication
  • Education/training materials
  • Engagement
  • Organization

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