Brown signs slate of clean drinking water bills

From arsenic to E. coli bacteria, contaminants flow from the water taps of hundreds of communities across the state. But seven bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown seek to improve access to clean drinking water in California, particularly for residents in rural and disadvantaged communities.

“Clean drinking water is a basic human right,” Brown said in a statement. “The bills I have signed today will help ensure that every Californian has access to clean and safe sources of water.”

According to clean-water advocates, the legislation addresses a longstanding need. A study [PDF] by the Pacific Institute found that between 2005 and 2008, 1.3 million residents in the San Joaquin Valley had nitrate-polluted water coming from their faucets. Nitrates can cause death in vulnerable populations such as babies, and they also have been associated with cancer. Surveys by California Rural Legal Assistance and the Community Water Center in Visalia also found that low-income Californians who have access only to polluted water spend between 4 and 10 percent of their household income on bottled water for cooking and drinking.

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