In this moment of crisis, we are all understandably concerned for our own loved ones. But we cannot turn our backs on those Californians that for decades have been underserved and neglected by their government. While clean water is a basic human right and paramount for public health, an estimated one million Californians currently lack access to safe drinking water.
Governor Newsom and local public health officials across the state have ordered people to stay in their homes and to wash their hands – but you cannot shelter-in-place without access to clean water. Vulnerable communities across California in both rural and urban locations, who are largely low-income families and people of color, face the possibility of imminent disruption to their water service due to inability to pay. This threatens public safety and puts a rapidly growing number of families at risk who are struggling financially. California needs to ban water shutoffs during this crisis. Turning off the tap for families in need undermines California’s commitment to safe, affordable drinking water, and threatens to undermine California’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
You can also do your part – stop hoarding bottled water! For these underserved communities, bottled water is the only option because their tap water is polluted or has been turned off. The mass hysteria surrounding COVID-19 has led to many Californians hoarding bottled water despite no evidence that the virus threatens our drinking water supplies. Per the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water supplies because widely-used water treatment methods kill the virus. Your stockpiling is forcing families to choose between drinking and cooking with contaminated water to comply with the Governor’s shelter-in-place order, and being forced to travel much farther to find safe alternative drinking water sources.
Governor Newsom and elected leaders need to place an immediate statewide moratorium on water shutoffs. And you need to do your part by saying ‘no’ to bottled water. Without both, we are putting our underserved communities at even more of a risk.