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Statewide Coalition Will Continue Fighting for Clean and Affordable Drinking Water in 2018

by Monika Shankar

PSR-LA staff and physician member, alongside community residents and allies, meet with Assemblymember Phillip Chen (AD-55) to discuss SB 623

In 2017, PSR-LA joined a coalition of over 80 organizations to support Senate Bill 623 – the Clean and Affordable Drinking Water Fund bill authored by Senator Monning. The bill is a vital solution to our communities’ struggles with affordable and unsafe drinking water. In fact, it would provide more than $100 million of funding each year to address the short-term needs of many communities by providing interim drinking water supplies, and long-term drinking water needs by creating an ongoing source of funding to offset the operations and maintenance costs in these communities.

PSR-LA elected to support SB 623 because of the impact it could have on the communities we work with in South and East Los Angeles. Over the last year, PSR-LA and our allies have been documenting data on the quality of drinking water in South LA and Watts. In a previous blog post, we summarized how in Watts, for example, the Jordan Downs Environmental Justice Coalition found that 70% of respondents have noticed water from their taps that is brown, rust colored, dirty or murky. Additionally, only 12% of respondents felt safe drinking the water from their taps. A majority noted that it took more than half an hour to clear, and for many it never cleared.

Recognizing the importance of establishing a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund as part of the solution to these local conditions, PSR-LA mobilized community residents, advocates and our health professional members to educate legislators about the community story and SB 623. We conducted 5 in district visits with Southern California legislators, and organized a visit to Sacramento in August 2017.

Although it was turned into a 2-year bill, PSR-LA and our allies are energized and committed to continuing the fight for SB 623 in 2018. Communities like Watts have been facing this water crisis for too long. It is imperative that California takes action immediately to safeguard the health of impacted communities.

If you are interested in supporting PSR-LA’s efforts to create a safe and affordable drinking water fund next year, contact Monika Shankar at mshankar@psr-la.org.