‘Human Right to Water’
Science shows a person can only survive three or four days without water. It is more essential than food. “Human Right to Water” (HR2W) means the recognition that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes,” as defined in Assembly Bill 685.
In 2016, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted a Human Right to Water Resolution and the “HR2W list” highlights public water systems that are out of compliance or consistently fail to meet primary drinking water standards.
There were 326 community water systems marked as failing on the 2021 HR2W list. Another 617 public water systems were determined to be at-risk of failing to sustainably provide a sufficient amount of safe and affordable drinking water. While the San Joaquin Valley had some of the most problematic systems, researchers also found trouble spots across most of urbanized Southern California.
What can be done?
Investing in water infrastructure is essential. “We’ve known for some time about the number of systems failing, and steps have been taken to start to address the problem. Our report clearly shows the state’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program, which provides $130 million annually over 10 years, is a great help—but it doesn’t go far enough to fill the gap we’re seeing,” said Greg Pierce, lead researcher on State Water Resources Control Board study and associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.
In fact, the total estimated capital costs of addressing the challenges faced by currently failing HR2W list and At-Risk systems are approximately $4.5 billion for modeled long-term solutions and $1.6 billion for the estimated duration of modeled emergency/interim solutions.
Rebuild SoCal Partnership offers help
“A city living with outdated infrastructure as badly as Needles is not something we should be talking about in the 21st Century,” said Marci Stanage, Rebuild SoCal Partnership’s (RSCP) Director of Water and Environmental Relations. She set out to find ways to assist. In 2019, RSCP entered a partnership with California Consulting, Inc., the largest grant writing company in the state, and RSCP agreed to pay all application fees so disadvantaged communities like Needles can apply for state and federal grants.
There are more than 100 disadvantaged communities in the state that also need assistance like this. To understand more about the problems facing California water infrastructure, read The State Water Board’s 2021 Needs Assessment.
If you are as frustrated as RSCP, learn how you can get involved. There is a lot of infrastructure work out there that needs to be done and yet politics have gotten in the way and continue to do so. Join the movement and lend your voice. Share your concerns with others and contact your legislators.
As it states in The State Water Board’s 2021 Needs Assessment report, “Only together will we be successful in achieving the Human Right to Water goal for all Californians.”