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Revealing the Invisible Coachella Valley: Putting Cumulative Environmental Vulnerabilities on the Map 

Authors: Jonathan K. London, Teri Greenfield, and Tara Zagofsky

To support community capacity building and mobilization on issues of environmental justice and public health in the Eastern Coachella Valley, The California Endowment invited UC Davis through a partnership with CIRS to partner with local advocates in documenting the often-invisible patterns of cumulative environmental vulnerability in this region. In response, this report gathers the latest available public data sets for Riverside County and compiles them into two multi-indicator indices: a Cumulative Environmental Hazards Index (CEHI) and a Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). Together, the CEHI and SVI indices form the basis of a Cumulative Environmental Vulnerability Assessment (CEVA). The CEVA reveals that residents in the Eastern Coachella Valley face significant and overlapping environmental hazards and social vulnerability that far exceed those in the Western Coachella Valley and the county as a whole. In particular, agricultural pesticide applications, drinking water quality, and housing quality are key challenges to community well-being. The intention of this report is to help leaders better understand and target increased investment in environmental protection, health promotion, and community well-being in this sometimes forgotten but vital corner of California. The Eastern Coachella Valley represents an important opportunity for developing innovative approaches to smart growth and regional equity that can support flourishing rural communities.