The basic human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water became part of state policy today when Governor Brown signed AB 685. A.B. 685 directs relevant state agencies to advance the implementation of this policy when those agencies make administrative decisions pertinent to the use of water for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.
“Safe, affordable water is a basic essential of survival. We applaud the Legislature and the Governor for recognizing this and taking the bold action to cement it into law,” said Alecia Sanchez of the California Cen ter for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), a member of the Safe Water Alliance that has worked on this issue.
For years, grassroots activists, community leaders, faith-based groups, and dedicated environmental justice, public health and environmental organizations, drawn together by a shared commitment to improve access to safe drinking water in our poorest communities, have been advocating at the local, regional, and state level, combating powerful, entrenched interests determined not to change the status quo in California water policy.
“It is disgraceful that there are communities in California that have struggled to gain access to safe water for decades. What our communities have lacked in influence, we make up in heart. Our impacted communities have been the lodestar of our work. Their voices have carried us all forward,” said Maria Herrera of the Community Wat er Center, a member of the Safe Water Alliance.
On August 29, legislators from regions all over the state—from Coachella Valley to San Diego, Fresno to the Central Coast, and San Gabriel to Marin County to Berkeley— stood up to support this bill and through their speeches echoed the voices of communities challenged to ensure safe water.
“Governor Brown also heard our community’s voices and now, with his signature of AB 685, state agencies making decisions that impact drinking water will have to consider our voices when setting policy, funding criteria, and regulation,” Herrera added. “Today’s action will move not just these communities, but all of California, forward to the day where everyone can enjoy something as basic as safe drinking water. We are very grateful to Governor Brown for taking this historic step.”
Introduced by State Assembly Member Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), A.B. 685 was co-sponsored by the Safe Water Alliance, which includes: Alliance for Democracy, Asociacion de Gente Unida por el Agua, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Clean Water Action, Community Water Center, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Food and Water Watch, PolicyLink, San Jerardo Cooperative, Inc., Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Urban Semillas, Winnemem Wintu Tribe and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section. Report by Alecia Sanchez – Center for Public Health Advocacy
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September 25, 2012
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