Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Sarah Fletcher Research Lab
Water affordability: In 2012, California was the first state to legislatively declare the human right to water, which entitles all people access to affordable, safe, and reliable water. However, droughts, which are being exacerbated by climate change, challenge reliability and affordability by reducing water availability and increasing supply costs. We are using decision-support tools to understand how we can improve water infrastructure policies and planning in Santa Cruz, CA, where we have a partnership with the water department. This summer, we also plan to research relevant NGOs focused on urban water needs in California and build skills in community-engaged research. Currently, infrastructure investments are often based on least-cost methods and affordability is rarely considered. We aim to develop new research ideas through community partnerships, such as co-developing affordability metrics for our decision-support tools so that they best fit community needs.