All Americans should have the right to access safe, clean, and affordable drinking water and sanitation, but some communities are disproportionately burdened with water-related problems. Advocacy organizations that are working with communities to address water inequity problems are experts on empowering and uniting stakeholders, but may lack the training to answer a community’s questions about drinking water or provide assistance to address these issues. To fill this gap, River Network, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to water protection, contracted with ERG to develop a drinking water guide for community groups in the Great Lakes region.
As a first step, ERG convened a group of national experts and advocates to provide perspectives and insight on topics such as drinking water protection and regulatory compliance, utility management, finance, and infrastructure management. Based on the input from this advisory group and our own experience, we developed a hands-on guide and associated training to help address basic questions about water systems, explain the types of water problems a community could encounter, and provide guidance on addressing these issues. The guide includes inspirational case studies showing how communities have addressed similar challenges. It also discusses the potential impacts of a changing climate on water resources and how a community can plan now to build resiliency in the face of drought, wildfires, extreme weather, and other threats.