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ABC’s of your Health: Access to safe and affordable drinking water is finally a priority in the state, advocates

Community members and advocates had traveled to Sacramento many times to advocate for safe and affordable water for their communities. Their hard work had paid off as the governor is making sustainable funding for safe drinking water a top priority in 2019.
Community members and advocates had traveled to Sacramento many times to advocate for safe and affordable water for their communities. Their hard work had paid off as the governor is making sustainable funding for safe drinking water a top priority in 2019. Special to Vida en el Valle

For many underserved communities of color in the Central Valley, the New Year started on the right track as the Gov. Gavin Newsom made access to safe and affordable drinking water a priority in the state.

Organizations such as the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Coalition applauded Newsom’s efforts to address a “human rights crisis” that threatens people in every region of the state to make sure community without safe, affordable water, many of them in the Central Valley, have access to the vital liquid.

After taking office Newsom announced his commitment to securing universal access to safe drinking water by including the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in his 2019-20 proposed state budget.

Officials from the Community Water Center said Newsom’s commitment to safe water is “historic.”

“As community-based organizations that are working alongside communities without safe, affordable water, we see the Governor’s commitment to working with the Legislature to establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund as a historic step towards addressing this human rights crisis that threatens people in every region of our state,” said Jonathan Nelson, policy director for Community Water Center. “We agree that California’s crisis of one million people without access to safe, affordable drinking water is ‘a disgrace.’

On Jan. 11, Newsom traveled to Monterey Park Tract in Stanislaus County with his entire cabinet to learn more about the state’s drinking water crisis and reinforce his commitment to passing the Fund.

Newsom said it was “the right thing to do.”

Health and environmental advocates applauded Newsom for his commitment to engaging directly with impacted communities and to finally providing safe drinking water for all Californians.

Veronica Garibay, co-founder-Co-Director from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability said they are in support of Newsom’s effort that would benefit California families, especially minorities and low-income people.

“Leadership Counsel is one of the sponsors of the legislative effort,” Garibay said, adding that there is a critical need for ongoing operation and maintenance cost for drinking water contamination. “It is about time we do something about it.”

Garibay said the community advocates has been working for a decade to address the issue of safe drinking water.

Nelson said communities of color and low-income neighborhoods are usually the ones that “bear the brunt of California’s drinking water crisis.”

Nelson said the coalition is urging state legislature to “immediately introduce legislation to enact a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund that will ensure every child, every family, in California can have universal access to safe and affordable drinking water.”

Garibay said the community and its advocates are ready to work with both the governor and legislature to make it happen this year.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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