New Laws will Improve Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Services in Disadvantaged Communities

Monday, October 14, 2019

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Governor Newsom recently signed AB 508 and AB 600 by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) as part of efforts to bring clean drinking water and services to disadvantaged communities.  These bills will improve efficiency and transparency in processes to deliver safe drinking water and promote equitable development by preventing cities from selectively annexing around nearby disadvantaged unincorporated communities. 

“Too often poor and marginalized communities go overlooked,” said Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose). “Many communities in California still lack the basic services we take for granted including safe drinking water and wastewater services. These communities are part of California and we must not leave them behind. AB 508 moves us toward delivering safe drinking water to all Californians by keeping residents informed of risks from contaminated water in their areas and opportunities for consolidation or extensions of service. AB 600 promotes equitable development by preventing cities from selectively annexing new territory by excluding nearby disadvantaged unincorporated communities. These bills will result in more communities gaining access to essential services. I’m grateful to the Governor and the sponsors of AB 508 and AB 600 for their support and championing a California that works for all.”

Assemblymember Chu partnered with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability to pass AB 508 and AB 600 into law, and PolicyLink is a cosponsor of AB 600. Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability is an organization that is dedicated to securing equal access to opportunities for communities regardless of wealth, race, income, and place. PolicyLink is a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity.

Specifically, AB 508 requires the State Water Resources Control Board to provide residents of a community with information about water contamination in the area, the health risks associated and the opportunity to access safe drinking water.

"On behalf of the communities Leadership Counsel works with and serves, we thank Assemblymember Chu for standing as a champion for access to safe drinking water by authoring and securing passage of AB 508,” said Michael Claiborne, Staff Attorney for Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.  “All Californians deserve access to safe and affordable drinking water, and AB 508 is another step toward realization of the promise of water as a human right. We now ask the State Water Board to quickly and proactively implement the bill to overcome local resistance to drinking water consolidation and extension of service to communities facing water contamination."

AB 600 encourages equitable development by closing a loophole in state law to prevent cities from selectively incorporating new territory but not a nearby disadvantaged unincorporated community (DUC). Once the DUC is incorporated, the community will have access to the important services that they need, such as water and wastewater services.

"By signing AB 600, Governor Newsom has affirmed the importance of equitable development decisions that include and serve some of California's most marginalized communities,” said Julia Jordan, Policy Coordinator for Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “We thank Assemblymember Chu for supporting the State's disadvantaged unincorporated communities by insisting that they are no longer excluded from the safe, adequate services due to poor annexation decisions.  AB 600 is a critical step and we will continue to work towards ensuring that all California residents have access to basic needs and services."

“For decades, low income unincorporated communities have struggled to access the most basic infrastructure and community services,” said Chione Lucina Muñoz Flegal, Managing Director of PolicyLink. “AB 600 brings us one step closer to a California where all communities are healthy places. We are thrilled the Governor has signed this important legislation." 

CONTACT: Annie Pham (916) 319-2025

Assemblymember Kansen Chu is proud to represent the 25th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Santa Clara and San Jose.

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