The rising cost of water service is hitting many communities hard. Residents of rural areas and tribal communities are most likely to lack complete water infrastructure. From Texas to Louisiana to Puerto Rico, the poorest communities are often situated in areas of high risk for flooding. They're also least able to afford measures to guard against natural disasters or recover from them.

The poorest 1/5 of Americans, located mostly in urban areas, pay about 20% of their household income for water service.
— "An Equitable Water Future", US Water Alliance
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Black and Hispanic adults are half as likely as whites to drink tap water.

A recent study showed that black and Hispanic adults are half as likely as whites to drink tap water. Water quality challenges abound — lead, nitrate contamination, algal blooms and sewage from straight pipe septic systems — and are eroding Americans’ confidence in safe, affordable access to water. Communities already disadvantaged by socioeconomic inequalities are less likely to be able to afford expensive testing and treatment options.

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In California one million people lack reliable access to safe drinking water.

In California alone, one million people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. Coastal erosion is forcing entire communities across the Gulf Coast to relocate. And nearly 40% of the residents of the Navajo Nation don’t have a clean water tap or toilet in their home.

 

 

What We're Doing

The Water Main is committed to shining a spotlight on the economic and racial disparities at stake in Americans’ access to clean, safe drinking water. Working with local partners, we will provide time, space, and resources for community members to share their own stories about the ways in which water inequity and injustice manifests itself within their lives.

 
 
Nieghbors in North Minneapolis’ Folwell Neighborhood gather at the Story Garden for a night of storytelling, music, and performance focused on the community’s relationship to water.  Photo by Katrina Hannamann with    Studio Laguna Photography

Nieghbors in North Minneapolis’ Folwell Neighborhood gather at the Story Garden for a night of storytelling, music, and performance focused on the community’s relationship to water. Photo by Katrina Hannamann with Studio Laguna Photography

 
 

Water, Community, and Racial Equity in North Minneapolis

The Water Main and MPR News are working with people, organizations, and media outlets in North Minneapolis to create conversations about water, community, and racial equity.

 
 
 

Community Events

The Folwell neighborhood is located within a mile of the Mississippi River but residents say they don’t feel connected to the river even with their close proximity.

 

Media Collaborations

The Water Main and Minnesota Public Radio News partnered with KMOJ and North News to share stories about Northsiders’ relationships with water and the Mississippi River.

 
 
 
Domitila Valerio with her children, Esmeralda, 9, and Diego, 7, at their home in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.  Michelle Kanaar for APM Reports

Domitila Valerio with her children, Esmeralda, 9, and Diego, 7, at their home in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. Michelle Kanaar for APM Reports

 
 

Great Lakes Water Equity

In cities across the country, the cost of water has risen dramatically in recent years, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to endure weeks or even months without an essential resource. The crisis is especially acute in cities along the Great Lakes - the region of the country with the most abundant fresh water.

Reporting

National and local outlets around the Great Lakes reported on the findings from our investigation.

Community

Prior to the airing of the national reporting, we gathered with stakeholders in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland to explore solutions.

 
 
 
 
 

Flyover: Down the Mississippi River

Flyover from MPR News with host Kerri Miller is a live, national call-in show from between the coasts and across the aisle. This week-long special looked at the Mississippi River and how it influences the economy, culture and environment of the communities along its path.

 

in conversation

At the One Water Summit 2018 in Minneapolis, the Water Main partnered with the U.S. Water Alliance to host a conversation between journalists and community-based water leaders from around the country about reporting on water equity issues.  

live events

In collaboration with WWNO Public Radio for New Orleans, The Water Main brought together fishermen, oil industry workers, native communities, environmental advocates and coastal scientists for a town hall conversation about equitable solutions to a changing Mississippi delta region.

 
 

Learn More

 
 

US Water Alliance

An Equitable Water Future

This national briefing paper examines the interconnections between water management and vulnerable communities in the United States.

 
 

Water Equity Clearinghouse

Water Equity Clearinghouse

The clearinghouse showcases the work of utilities, community-based organizations, nonprofits, coalitions, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, researchers and others.