Environmental Justice (EJ) is defined by California statute as “The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of all environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Water Boards) have established an EJ Program to promote and ensure public outreach, participation and education regarding Water Board meetings, hearings and activities for all Californians. Consistent with legislative mandates, the Water Board’s EJ Program goals include:
- Integrating EJ considerations into the development, adoption, implementation and enforcement of Board decisions, regulations and policies.
- Promoting meaningful public participation and community capacity building to allow communities to be effective participants in Board decision-making processes.
- Working with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to improve research and data collection in communities of color and low-income populations.
- Ensuring effective cross-media coordination and accountability when addressing environmental justice issues.
At the Central Coast Water Board, EJ shapes our priorities, frames our projects, and informs our actions. It embraces the idea that every community, regardless of its size and economic standing, deserves access to safe water. For a summary of recent EJ activities, please refer to the following EJ updates to the Central Coast Water Board:
California's Human Right to Water Law
On September 25, 2012, California became the first state in the nation to legislatively recognize the human right to water. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 685 (Water Code Section 106.3) which declares that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.” The law calls on all relevant state agencies to consider the human right to water “when revising, adopting, or establishing policies, regulations, and grant criteria” relevant to domestic water uses. It is now known as the Human Right to Water (HRTW) law.
On February 16, 2016, the State Water Board adopted Resolution No. 2016-0010, which adopted the Human Right to Water as a core value and directed its implementation in Water Board programs and activities.
On January 26, 2017, the Central Coast Water Board adopted Resolution No. R3-2017-0004, which adopts the human right to water as a core value and affirms the realization of the human right to water and protecting human health as the Central Coast Water Board's top priorities, and also directs staff to prioritize regulatory programs to prevent and address discharges that could threaten human health by causing or contributing to pollution or contamination of drinking water sources.
Environmental Justice Links and Data
- Groundwater Assessment and Protection (GAP) Program
- GeoTracker GAMA integrates and geographically displays water quality data from multiple sources.
- Nitrate Tool
- CalEnviroscreen Version 2.0 Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment screening methodology that can be used to identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.
- State Water Board Environmental Justice Home Page
- CalEPA Environmental Justice Home Page
- Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
- California Rural Legal Assistance
- Californians Without Safe Water and Sanitation
Should you have additional questions or concerns about the EJ Program, please contact:
- Central Coast Water Board EJ Coordinator
Phone: (805) 542-4644
- State Water Board EJ Coordinator
Phone: (916) 341-5501