In California, Human Right to Water Bills Pass the State Assembly

2012 Human Right to Water Bill Package

The bills in this package are a vital step toward ensuring access to safe, sufficient, affordable water for daily human needs for the most disadvantaged and at risk communities in the state. With polluted water resources and aging and inadequate infrastructure, public water systems are challenged to provide residents with safe water at affordable rates.

Unfortunately, only two bills, AB1830 and AB2238, made it to the Assembly Floor for a vote, and now go to the Senate.  

Although, AB 685 (Eng), the basic Human Right to Water policy bill passed the Assembly June 1, 2011, after a year, it is still pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill, part of the first Human Right to Water bill package introduced during the 2011 legislative session, would establish the human right to water as a statewide policy priority to ensure all Californians have access to safe, affordable, and sufficient drinking water.  

While the other bills are remedies for specific problems in providing safe, sufficient and affordable water to impacted communities, AB 685 would establish the human right to water as state policy – and be the first to do so in any state in the U.S.

The 2012 Human Right to Water bill package included these two bills that passed the Assembly the last week of May:

  • AB 1830 (VM Perez) Protections for Mobile Home Park Residents and Water Rates – This bill authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to order restitution to mobile home park residents where it finds that the part owner charged unjust or unreasonable rates.
  • AB 2238 (Perea) Consolidation – Through improved funding mechanisms, this bill would provide consolidation or extension of infrastructure and/or management services to better serve existing low-income communities that currently lack safe affordable water.

These two bills are still held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee:

  • AB 1669 (Perea) “At Risk Areas” – This bill would create the “Nitrate at Risk Area Fund” to fund drinking water projects in disadvantages communities which are designated as at risk for nitrate contamination by the State Water Resources Control Board and the Dept. of Public Health.
  • AB 2334 (Fong) Water Affordability – This bill would require the Dept. of Water Resources to conduct an analysis of water affordability every 5 years as part of the CA Water Plan Update and identify factors contributing to high water rates and proposing programs to make water affordable in high-cost communities.

The Safe Water Alliance partners are: Alliance for Democracy; California Center for Public Health Advocacy; California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation; Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton; Clean Water Action; Community Water Center; Environmental Justice Coalition for Water; Food and Water Watch; Pueblo Unido; Southern California Watershed Alliance; Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network, CA; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Urban Semillas; Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and  Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

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