Postcard from California: State falling short on promise of clean water

By Bill Walker
In 2012, California became the first US state to establish a legal right to clean water.

The law declares that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”

The law is less a mandate than an ideal: It requires state agencies to consider the right to water in all decisions, but explicitly says it does not obligate the state to provide or pay for safe water.

Now, ten years since the law’s enactment, a state oversight agency’s investigation shows how far short of its aspiration California has fallen.

In July, a report from the California State Auditor found that nearly 1 million Californians lack access to safe drinking water.