In 2010, the United Nations named the rights to water and sanitation as a prerequisite to all other human rights – essential for life and dignity. Across America, cities are rallying to affirm and solidify these crucial rights. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Detroit were some of the first places to confirm this ideal, but the first truly citizen-led effort occurred in California.
For years, residents and organizations across California worked diligently to advocate for water in the poorest communities. Residents in contaminated areas were spending up to 20% of their income on water and sanitation alone. Their hard work paid off: in 2012, governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 685, granting the basic human right to water and sanitation to all Californians.
As sensible as this bill seems, it is a crucial step. In the words of our Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter:
“Such commonsense legislation to ensure that all people – regardless of where they live or how much money they have – have access to clean and affordable water is critical in a civil society. There should be no compromising our access to clean and reliable supplies of this life-giving resource for profit. Hopefully more states will affirm this basic human right to water and sanitation.”