Overview

Across the country, communities face mounting threats to their water security. Increased climate change-related flooding, sea-level rise, and drought threaten people's homes, lives, and the ecosystems they rely upon. Millions of Americans live in communities that do not have access to reliable safe drinking water. Many live in areas where the cost of water is unaffordable and mounting and children across the country attend schools where their drinking water is contaminated with lead.

Decades of structural racism, infrastructure underinvestment, and unjust policies have created the perfect storm for the unprecedented disruption unleashed in our country by Covid-19. What was once a crisis growing in the dark, the call by medical and public health experts to wash our hands and sanitize our surroundings to protect against Covid-19 has forced our nation to confront its shortcomings. Households and communities across the country — especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color — do not have access to our nation’s most basic PPE: safe and affordable water. Before the pandemic, an estimated 15 million people, mostly people of color struggling with poverty and unemployment, experienced water shutoffs when they couldn’t pay their bills. With the ongoing public health and economic crisis, millions more are at risk of water shutoffs and the water debt across small and large systems is only growing. The devastating correlation between Covid morbidity and water shutoffs further highlights how water is life-sustaining and life-giving.

As a result of these conditions, there has been significant movement in the calls for new equity-focused climate-resilient investment to address the water threats to low-income communities and communities of color.

In April 2018, PolicyLink launched the national Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus to build a national network of organizations working to address water equity and climate resilience — centering frontline communities of color and low-income communities, and in 2019, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy joined the Caucus as co-chair. The Caucus builds a shared analysis and understanding of the problems, codifies policy strategies, and enables members to deliver on water equity results for their communities. The Caucus does this through peer learning, tool, and knowledge development, and also holds shared local, state, and tribal advocacy but primarily focuses on federal advocacy.

    Membership

    The Water Equity & Climate Resilience Caucus is a national network composed of the following: 

    • Core members: The Caucus prioritizes people of color-led frontline organizations followed by those that are equity-focused as core members. This includes but is not limited to grassroots organizations, tribal/ Indigenous leaders, artists/ cultural bearers,  and civil rights organizations. As a core member, your leadership, voice, and communities are centered in activities and decision-making processes.
       
    • Allies: We welcome any organizations and institutions who are working towards strengthening their environmental justice and racial equity lens as allies. This includes but is not limited to water utilities, universities, and research institutions. As allies, we hope you can support our frontline communities by sharing resources and information.
       
    • Funders: Organizations who have provided, or are providing, financial support to the Caucus’s activities or works related to water democracy and climate justice

    See where our members are located.

    Allied Regional / State Coalitions

    Although the Caucus engages primarily in federal advocacy together, there are a few regional formations across the country where Caucus members leverage local networks to advance water equity and climate resilience goals. These formations are critically important to mobilizing local, statewide, and regional partners in campaigns and initiatives that strengthen and influence the broader efforts of the Caucus.