Growing up in California, water security has always been a front-page issue. The competing forces of drought and flooding were constant events oscillating between “normal” years. For me and my family, drought was an especially important concern because our house is not connected to the local water lines. Instead we rely on a well and aquifer for all of our water. Though we have been fortunate to never completely run out of water, our pressure has dropped during periods of low flow or drought. We don’t know how much water is in the aquifer at any given time, and because the pump is electric, we lose access when the power goes out during major storms or blackouts (another unique feature of California!).

While these service disruptions were relatively minor and temporary inconveniences, they primed me to understand more deeply the wide ranges of water security and access issues that many people face across California. This is most visible in the farmland-dominated Central Valley where toxins permeate groundwater supplies and families can only use bottled water to drink and bathe. However, many communities across the state, from the rural north to urban centers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, also lack access to reliable water that is clean and safe to drink.

California’s position as the world’s fifth-largest economy gives it the power to reduce and even eliminate the clean water disparity among disadvantaged communities. The problems are known, now the solutions must be realized. Certainly, implementing change is no easy feat for the biggest state in the country. However, working community-by-community is a natural place to start. That’s why I was inspired by Blue Access’ mission—to identify and implement scalable solutions at the community level.