The primary project in this area addresses the growing problem of household affordability for drinking water service in California. In a two-year project authorized by CA Assembly Bill 401 and sponsored by the State Water Resources Control Board, we are conducting research to inform alternative policy designs for a state-wide Low-Income Rate Assistance program. A related forthcoming discussion paper outlines California’s current and envisioned support policies which may be employed to achieve the goals associated with human right to water, which the state enshrined with CA Assembly Bill 685. This analysis synthesizes the benefits and tradeoffs between designing state policies which support poorly-performing water systems and policies which directly support disadvantaged households with sub-standard water access.
Another stream of research supporting household access attempts to quantify the under-examined relationship between water security and socioeconomic disadvantage in U.S. mobile home parks, which represent a substantial proportion of the national and state housing stock. The first results of a national analysis have been published in Housing Policy Debate and covered on National Public Radio's Marketplace show. A follow-on study focusing on the scope of the problem in California, and viable policy responses, is in development.
In the international context, Dr. Pierce is overseeing the work of four undergraduate students who evaluated a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) intervention in rural Uganda, in collaboration with local NGO Mpoma and GlobeMed.