Biography of George McGraw
George McGraw, a leading expert on water and sanitation, was appointed by Mayor Karen Bass and confirmed by the City Council to the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners for the term ending June 30, 2025.
McGraw serves as the Founder & CEO of DigDeep, the only WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) organization solely focused on the USA. In 2019, he co-authored the ‘Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States’ Report, an explosive study that revealed over 2 million Americans currently live without a tap or toilet at home, with race being the No. 1 predictor of water insecurity.
In 2022, he was the lead author on Draining: The Economic Impact of America’s Hidden Water Crisis, which calculated this water access gap costs the US economy $8.58 billion each year it remains unsolved. The report also found that there is hope: for every $1 invested in closing the water gap, the US economy would see a nearly five-times return.
McGraw began his work abroad, focusing on water access in low income communities in East and West Africa. DigDeep is now the only WaSH organization solely focused on the United States, where over 2 million Americans live without a tap or toilet at home. Under George’s leadership as CEO, DigDeep has grown to serve remote areas where the U.S. water crisis is particularly acute, through its Navajo Water Project, (on the Navajo Nation, which spans New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah), Appalachia Water Project (West Virginia), and Colonias Water Project (Texas).
McGraw has also become an emerging voice in the public policy space, co-authoring the 2019 Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States Report (the first nationwide study of America’s hidden water crisis) and providing data insights and subject area expertise to legislators and Presidential transition teams for policy building. He recently expanded on this work as the lead author of ‘Draining: The Economic Impact of America’s Hidden Water Crisis’, illustrating the economic impact of leaving millions of Americans in the water access gap.
While there are multi-billion-dollar efforts made to alleviate water insecurity globally, these efforts are virtually nonexistent within the U.S., one of the only developed nations where the water access gap is actually widening as a result of increasing climate change and widespread economic inequality. In response to this domestic crisis, DigDeep develops education, research, and infrastructure programs aimed at extending the human right to clean running water to every American.
McGraw works with local government officials, policymakers and utility providers to innovate unique solutions to the problems of water and sanitation access in different areas of the nation, consciously avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach which fails to address the varied intersections of water poverty and environmental racism that plague the country’s infrastructure. George is a leading queer voice in social change, entrepreneurship and environmental justice. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and former Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Stanford University. McGraw holds an M.A. in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from the United Nations University for Peace, where his thesis on the “minimum core” of human water rights quickly became an intellectual staple for human rights programs around the world.
McGraw has presented his work and insights as a frequent guest speaker on national broadcast news, and to audiences at large corporations and universities.