With California Climate Investments (cap and trade) funds from the California Department of Water Resources, Ecology Action developed the WaterLink program that provided water- and energy-efficiency upgrades to residents and businesses in underserved communities of the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey Bay Area, and Santa Clara Valley from 2016 to 2019. WaterLink helped Californians make conservation a way of life by combining both financial incentives and the expert technical assistance that residents and businesses needed to take immediate action.

An example of achieving both environmental justice and sustainability goals, the program hired and trained people from lower-income communities to provide free direct installation of cost-effective, indoor hot-water conservation measures in single-family and multifamily residential units, commercial kitchens, skilled-nursing facilities, and hotels. The program also converted 50,000 square feet of lawns and abandoned landscapes into beautiful low-water-use landscaping and upgraded irrigation systems at schools and public facilities in areas where imported cold water has a higher embedded energy. Turf-conversion projects were implemented in collaboration with the California Conservation Corps, which provided additional valuable green-job training experiences. The project converted $7.5 million in one-time state grant funding into $7 million in annual utility bill savings for California residents who are most in need.


  • Provided multilingual technical assistance to help 24,664 families, businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations with limited resources reduce their water demand.
  • Pioneered direct-installation engagement strategies while maximizing the water and energy conserved per grant dollar spent.
  • Increased community and water-system resiliency to impacts of drought and climate change.
  • Targeted water end-uses with high embedded energy to maximize the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provided job training and $7,141,422 in annual utility bill savings to underserved communities.

Overall Program Results

WaterLink Program Properties Served Annual Water Savings (Gallons) Annual GHG Emissions Reduced (MTCO2E)
Monterey Bay 5,990 113,572,026 4,530
San Francisco Bay Area 9,090 218,500,000 7,295
Santa Clara County 9,584 494,876,768 72,759
TOTAL 24,664 826,948,794 84,584

Click here for more details on program results and outcomes. WaterLink received top honors in the Best Organization category of the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award Program in 2017, alongside Oracle and Stanford for innovative accomplishments in their categories. The awards are judged by a large coalition of Bay Area decision-makers, and we’re honored to have such an illustrious panel recognize the program’s positive impacts.

Program Partners

Ecology Action, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, City of Watsonville, Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, California Conservation Corps

Funded By

California Department of Water Resources 2014 and 2016 Water-Energy Grant Programs, California Climate Investments