Water Quality and Homelessness

The Central Coast Water Board strives to collaborate with local and state agencies and non-profit entities to identify and promote solutions that reduce water quality impacts associated with people experiencing homelessness. Actions such as improving access to emergency shelters, social services, clean drinking water, sanitation services, and affordable housing can help reduce impacts to central coast streams by providing interim and long-term solutions, thereby reducing the occurrence of streamside homeless encampments.


October 3, 2019 Workshop Quick Links


Water Quality Impacts
The occurrence of streamside homeless encampments is on the rise in the central coast, resulting in increased impacts associated with excessive trash, human waste, drug paraphernalia (e.g., discarded needles), and erosion that pose risks to public health and safety, and to water quality. Studies using DNA have confirmed human sources of fecal bacteria in central coast streams. Local agencies are also spending tens of thousands of dollars every year to cleanup homeless encampment related trash.


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Environmental Justice and California’s Human Right to Water Law
The Central Coast Water Board recognizes homelessness as one of the most challenging environmental justice issues we face and that it has a nexus to the human right to water. People experiencing homelessness often do not have access to shelter, safe drinking water, or sanitation services and this can result in public health and water quality problems.
For more information regarding the Water Board’s environmental justice goals and commitment to implement California’s Human Right to Water Law, go to the web page:


Should you have additional questions or would like additional information, please contact: RB3-Homelessness@Waterboards.ca.gov