Governor Signs Bills Protecting Parks and Making Clean Water a Human Right

Sep 25, 2012
By Sarah Rose

On Tuesday, two environmental priorities cleared the final hurdle to become law. With Gov. Brown's signature, our state parks gained protection from closure, and access to clean, drinkable water became a human right in California.

Brown signed three priority environmental bills on his desk today: two deal with funding for state parks, and a third with how California prioritizes clean, clear water for at-risk communities. All three bills had been priorities for CLCV and our members, thousands of whom communicated with their representives in Sacramento and with the governor that they should support the bills.

First, the news on parks as reported by the Associated Press:

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday that he had signed several bills to keep California's state parks open and ensure greater spending oversight after a scandal in which parks officials hid $54 million.

Together, the bills establish a two-year moratorium on park closures, provide about $30 million in funding and give the department that manages California's 278 state parks new fundraising tools.

AB1478 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, splits $30 million to help state parks at risk of closure stay open, complete overdue maintenance, and provide $10 million to match donations from private groups and local governments...

AB1589 by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael... gives the parks department new fundraising tools, including allowing Californians to donate to the department by checking a box on their income tax returns. It also requires the department to come up with a plan to increase revenues and maximize the fees it collects from parks patrons, which could mean installing credit card machines, imposing peak-time pricing, or introducing a new statewide annual parks pass.

Read more here:

Read more here:

And equally importantly, here's the good news about water: The Human Right to Water bill – Assembly Bill 685 – will help make access to clean water a reality for all Californians. It seems so basic, yet until Governor Brown signed this bill, California had not ensured that all of our communities have access to safe drinking water.

In too many communities, toxic chemicals from industrial and agricultural pollution transform kitchen faucets into health hazards. Rural and urban homes are left thirsty by contaminated community water, forcing California families and individuals to make a choice: buy bottled water, or drink toxic chemicals.

The University of California at Davis recently published a report on the human health impacts of agricultural nitrates in drinking water, including blue baby syndrome and skin disease. Researchers found that 1 million Californians have been exposed to ground water contaminated with nitrates in the past decade. Forcing whole communities to buy bottled water to avoid serious illnesses just isn't an acceptable alternative to providing safe, affordable tap water.

Last year, CLCV supporters helped pass four bills to move us closer to making access to clean water a reality for Californians. But the core bill in the Human Right to Water package didn't make it through.

On September 25, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 685 (Eng), which establishes the right of every Californian to have access to clean water for basic human needs as a state policy and instructs state agencies to conform their practices and programs to this policy.

Thanks to CLCV members, our partners in Green California (a process involving 85 environmental groups from around the state), and the elected environmental champions who authored these bills for making the strong environmental values of Californians a priority and now, a reality.





Leave a Comment

Take Action »

Be an environmental champion: take action to protect our air, water, and health.

Know Your Legislators »

Who represents you in the Assembly & State Senate? Find out how they voted on key environmental proposals.

Stay Connected »

Keep up with the latest from CLCV: environmental news, urgent action alerts, and more.

Donate »

Your support for CLCV helps maintain California's standing as the nation's environmental leader.

2016 California Environmental Scorecard

New for the 2016 legislative session: The 43rd annual California Environmental Scorecard rates elected officials on 2016, another successful year for the environment in spite of heavy opposition from polluting industry.

Find out how your legislators did in 2016 in CLCV's California Environmental Scorecard.