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The Municipal Drinking Water Database

Hughes S, Kirchhoff CJ, Conedera K, Friedman M (2023) The Municipal Drinking Water Database. PLOS Water 2(4): e0000081.

“Drinking water services in the U.S. are critical for public health and economic development but face technical, political, and administrative challenges. Understanding the root cause of these challenges and how to overcome them is hindered by the lack of integrative, comprehensive data about drinking water systems and the communities they serve. The Municipal Drinking Water Database (MDWD) combines financial, institutional, demographic, and environmental conditions of U.S. municipalities and their community water systems (CWS). Municipally owned and operated CWS are ubiquitous and play a critical role in ensuring safe, affordable drinking water services for most Americans; they also offer important opportunities for understanding municipal government behavior and decision making. The MDWD is publicly available and will enable researchers and practitioners interested in viewing or tracking drinking water spending, the financial condition of municipal governments, or myriad demographic, political, institutional, and physical characteristics of municipal drinking water systems to access the data quickly and easily. This paper describes the database and its creation, details examples of how the data can be used and discusses illustrative analyses of trends and insights that can be gleaned from the database. Building and sharing more integrated datasets provides new opportunities for asking novel questions about the drivers and consequences of local decision making about drinking water.”

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