Water supply for underserved, marginalized communities of the Salinas Valley
Water supply for disadvantaged communities of the Salinas Valley
On September 25th, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 685, making California the first state within the U.S. to recognize the human right to water. AB 685 - California's Human Right to Water Bill - mandates safe drinking water access and affordability to all Californians as part of California's state policy. Agencies charged with implementation of water policies must make the basic human right of access to affordable, potable water part of their decision making process.
In the Salinas Valley, disadvantaged communities face several challenges with respect to water quality. The degradation of ground water with pollutants such as Nitrates from agricultural fertilizers is one challenge. Salt water intrusion into fresh water aquifers due to over-pumping for both agricultural and urban use is another. These water quality concerns coupled with the fact that ground water is the primary water source for the Salinas Valley, make the goals of AB 685 a formidable challenge.
Furthermore, disadvantaged communities living in unincorporated part of the Salinas Valley are excluded from the decision making process that effect water infrastructure and availability in their communities through zoning laws. For non-English speaking residents, language becomes a barrier to accessing information and participating.
To implement AB 685, agencies such as CDPH and DWR will have to re-evaluate priorities and assess the needs and challenges withing these under-served, marginalized communities of people of color.
Populations Susceptible to Drinking Water Contamination in the Salinas Valley
Households in the Salinas are unusually dependent on groundwater compared to most of California. Households that rely on groundwater for household use and are part of low income communities with small water systems are most susceptible to nitrate contamination of their drinking water. There are over 100 small water systems that are documented and monitored and have had at least one incident of nitrate contamination over the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate. Approximately 2.6% of the Salinas Valley population use unregulated and unmonitored wells and are susceptible to contaminated drinking water. 
Integrated Regional Water Management Program
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