Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019CA030B

Assessing Health Impacts of Impaired Water Quality in California

Institute: California
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $14,980 Total Non-Federal Funds: $8,163

Principal Investigators: Maura C. Allaire

Abstract: Ensuring safe drinking water for communities across California represents an emerging challenge. Currently, over one million people are estimated to lack access to safe water in California. Yet, the full scope of this challenge is unknown. California lacks a full understanding of the populations that lack access to safe water and the associated health impacts. Surprisingly little is known about the scope of water borne disease statewide and this knowledge gap limits risk analysis and policymaking. This study aims to close this gap by: 1) analyzing trends in violations of drinking water quality standards in California, and 2) determining the health impacts of impaired drinking water. Logistic regressions will assess the relationship between drinking water quality violations and characteristics of water systems, using a balanced panel dataset of community water systems from 1982-2017. Meanwhile, fixed effects models will be developed to analyze the relationship between violation occurrence and gastrointestinal illness each month from 2005 – 2011. Water-related disease burden will be assessed across demographic groups – age, race, and disadvantaged communities. By combining several datasets not previously applied to California water issues, this research will develop clearer metrics for prioritizing water systems for state-level assistance. At present, communities must undertake a lengthy administrative process and health consequences are not considered in a systematic way for prioritization of assistance. This work will greatly advance understanding of vulnerable systems and water borne disease in California, particularly as the state seeks to promote cost-effective solutions for communities struggling with persistent water quality concerns.