Disadvantaged Communities

What is a DAC?

The State of California’s Proposition 1 Disadvantaged Community Involvement Program (DACIP) is designated to ensure the involvement of DACs as well as Economically Distressed Areas (EDAs) and Underrepresented Communities (URCs), which DWR collectively refers to as DACs.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) definition for a Disadvantaged Community (DAC) is a community with an annual median household income (MHI) that is less than 80% of the Statewide annual MHI (PRC Section 75005(g)), and those census geographies with an annual MHI less than 60% of the Statewide annual MHI are considered “Severely Disadvantaged Communities” (SDAC).

Particularly in the Bay Area, use of MHI as an indicator of disadvantage can obscure or mask disadvantage – either by lumping together very high household income areas with very low household income communities that fall into the same census geographies, thus raising the median so that the very low household income areas do not qualify as DACs, or by not including non-monetary forms of disadvantage, such as environmental justice communities and underrepresented communities.  To address this deficiency, other, more robust definitions of DACs include the use of the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) CalEnviroscreen, a screening methodology that can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. CalEPA has used the tool to designate California communities as disadvantaged pursuant to Senate Bill 535.  As another example, the California Climate Investment-funded Urban Greening Grant Program uses CalEnviroscreen to define communities that qualify as DACs.

Other Bay Area regional policies have been working to update the definition of DAC.  One recent example is the Measure AA’s guidelines are soon to include the following definition for EDC: “An economically disadvantaged community (EDC) is defined as a census tract with a median household income less than 80% of the area median income (AMI). Within this set of low-income communities, high priority EDCs are further defined as groups that are historically underrepresented in environmental policymaking and/or projects; most economically and environmentally impacted by heavy industrial activity and development; most vulnerable to climate change impacts, due to lack of resources required for community resilience; and severely burdened by housing costs, increasing the risk of displacement.”

Bay Area approach to assisting DACs

On behalf of the Bay Area IRWM region, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) is the lead applicant for the Proposition 1 funded Bay Area Disadvantaged Community (DAC) Involvement Program (DACIP).  EJCW will be administering funding from the Department of Water Resources through 2019 for outreach projects in DACs and with Tribal communities that have historically not been involved in water resource management decisions, as well as conducting a Bay-Area wide water-related needs assessment.  These outreach projects and the needs assessment will help inform funding granted in the second round of awards for implementation projects.  The DACIP also encompasses capacity building and technical assistance in DACs and Under Represented Communities (URCs), active inclusion of DACs into the IRWM governance structure, and updating the IRWM plan with DAC suggestions.

The Bay Area’s DACIP proposal, prepared by Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW), further defined URCs as “groups that do not meet the state definition of a Disadvantaged Community (DAC) or Economically Distressed Area (EDA), but are below the median household income for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. URCs are also defined as groups that have a history of disproportionately less representation in water policy and/or projects and include, but are not limited to, African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, California Indian Tribes, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, LGBTQ, homeless, new immigrant, disabled, youth and elderly populations, unincorporated communities, and small, independent organizations.”

We hope that through the DACIP we will be able to provide a more inclusive and accurate DAC definition that is reflective of the realities of these communities’ challenges and assets in the Bay Area.


Where are DACs in the Bay Area?

The DWR’s DAC Mapping Tool can be found here. The maps are grouped alphabetically by county.  Click the link for your county. The maps can take a while to load. Once loaded, double click on the map to zoom in. Find the “Layers” pull-down menu and turn on the layers you want to see. There are “Places,” “Tracts” and “Block Groups.” In the Bay Area Region, we will use “Tracts” and/or “Blocks.”


DAC Maps for the Bay Area

List of DACs in the Bay Area


How to Learn More