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Valley residents to protest for clean drinking water. ‘This is a human right’

Marin Sintes
Many residents in rural California cannot drink water out of their kitchen faucets because it can be full of nitrates and other contaminates, according to the State Water Board

Even though the state of California declared clean water as a human right a decade ago, some communities in rural California continue to face difficulties accessing water. That’s why Central Valley residents are traveling to Sacramento this week to protest.

“We're urging the governor to fund an affordable water program for our most vulnerable families,” says Pedro Calderon, a spokesperson for the Community Water Center, one of the event’s organizers.

Protestors are supporting two bills. Senate Bill 222 would establish the Water Rate Assistance Fund in the state treasury to help provide water affordability assistance to low-income residents. Assembly Bill 2201 would build on the Groundwater Sustainability Act, and would prohibit new permits to drill groundwater wells or alterations to existing wells.

This is about our community,” says Calderon. “This is a human right that needs to be addressed.”

Last month, an audit from the State Water Resources Control Board revealed almost one million Californians face possible long-term negative health issues as a result of drinking unsafe water from failing water systems. An increased risk of liver and kidney problems, and even cancer, are a few of the complications the audit found.

The most vulnerable people are those who live in the Central Valley. The audit found that Kern, Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and San Bernardino counties have the largest number of people served by failing water systems.

In July, there were reports of water shut offs in East Orosi and Tooleville in Tulare County.

This story is part of the Central Valley News Collaborative, which is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.