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Monterey County Proclaims Human Right to Safe Drinking Water Policy

Post Date:12/04/2018 12:00 PM

The Monterey County Health Department Environmental Health Bureau announces that it is now the official policy of Monterey County that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. Responding to a referral from Supervisor Luis Alejo, Chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, the proclamation was presented to and approved by the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, December 4th establishing the public policy of safe and clean water for human use as County policy.

On September 26, 2012 Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685) establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water. AB 685 codified this state policy in California Water Code section 106.3. AB 685 made California the first in the nation to legislatively recognize the human right to water. AB 685 also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations. Passage of AB 685 followed the lead of the United Nations, the states of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and the city of Detroit, Michigan, which have already affirmed the human right to water.

Through this proclamation, the County becomes the first county to establish a policy that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes and requires that all relevant county departments consider this policy when implementing policies and regulations, when those policies and regulations are pertinent to the uses of water described above. Further, the proclamation will:

  • Help to focus the issue of drinking water quality due to contamination in certain Monterey County domestic wells and water systems as well as potential future threats due to drought and a lack of any available drinking water.
  • Not be intended to create a right of action for customers to demand clean water because the “right to water” is language that is directed at administrative county departments to consider when creating policies and/or regulations where water supply and usage is considered.
  • Not be intended to impact the allocation of existing water rights.

“Monterey County will once again be a leader by becoming the first county in the state and nation to recognize the human right to water” stated Chair Alejo. “That would parallel the policy position taken by our state leaders and Governor Brown in 2012, and would demonstrate our strong commitment to ensure that all of our county residents have access to safe and clean drinking water, including our most disadvantaged families and communities. I hope other local governments will take similar actions as us in the months ahead.”

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