Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015CA339B

Assessing Environmental Justice Impacts and Social Learning of Integrated Regional Water Management Planning

Institute: California
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $12,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $7,021

Principal Investigators: Jonathon London

Abstract: Throughout California, the provision of unsafe and unaffordable water is an every day reality in many disadvantaged communities (DACs). Given that many water quality problems are concentrated in small, rural systems that lack economies of scale and resources to solve their drinking water problems, California policy makers have acknowledged the need to address drinking water challenges on a regional basis. Here, the field of Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) holds much promise as its centers on regional and holistic water management. But, until recently, IRWM venues have been inaccessible to DACs given the highly technical environments. To remedy these problems, in 2011 the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) funded 7 pilot projects to develop models for improving participation and addressing the water needs of DACs. Our study seeks to assess of how well these IRWM planning efforts addressed the needs of DACs through an assessment of the seven pilots. Using qualitative and quantitative methods we ask: 1) How effective were the seven pilot projects in achieving (a) improved participation of DACs, and (b) IRWM plans that include provisions to ensure improved access to drinking water in DACs?, and 2) Did the IRWM plans demonstrate evidence of social learning, and in what ways did this learning lead to improved inclusion? We seek to contribute to the existing literature on IRWM and environmental justice. In addition, we aim to provide key learnings and models of lessons learned to existing water policy circles focused on developing regional solutions for disadvantaged communities.