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June 6: implementing the human right to water in California

On June 6, 2013, from 12pm to 1pm, in Room 127 of the Capitol Building in Sacramento,  there will be a chance to learn and discuss how Californians can implement  AB 685, which affirmed the Human Right to Water.

The briefing will be based on a report, The Human Right to Water Bill in California: An Implementation Framework for State Agencies, by the UC Berkeley International Human Rights Law Clinic and is sponsored by the Safe Water Alliance.

On September 25, 2012, AB 685, which affirmed the basic human right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes was signed into law by Gov. Brown.

It was a historic victory for social movements and the poor, impacted communities across California, who have struggled for decades for clean water for household and personal use.  Governor Brown’s approval came three years after Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the first bill in 2009.

AB 685  adds Section 106.3 to the existing Water Code, by declaring that this basic human right is the established policy of the state and requiring state agencies to integrate this into their policies and regulations. The bill was authored by Assembly member Mike Eng (D-Alhambra) and co-sponsored by the Safe Water Alliance, which includes the Alliance for Democracy and many water policy, community, social justice and faith-based groups.

After AB 685, sponsored by former Assembly Member Eng was signed, Catarina de Albuquerque, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation said this law “will be an inspiration not only for other states within the USA, but equally for many other countries in the world.”

In August 2010, de Albuquerque reporting on her fact-finding mission to the U.S., had cited a host of alarming drinking water supply and sanitation conditions in California and the failure of the state to meet the human right to water.

According to Eng’s office, 250,000 California residents lack clean groundwater and are forced to purchase bottled water to ensure safe and clean drinking water. With annual median household incomes in some of the most severely contaminated areas reaching only $14,000, some households are devoting approximately 20 per cent of their income to water and sanitation.

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For more on the June 6 event, please contact Omar Carrillo (omar.carrillo@communitywatercenter.org) or Vern Goehring (vern@cal.net)

 

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