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Resolution emphasizes the right to water as a justice issue

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A coalition is backing an effort to get the Commonwealth to prioritize the protection of safe, clean, equitable and affordable drinking water access for all Virginians.

“The pandemic has laid bare vast inequities right here in my district and across the Commonwealth especially when it comes to a lack of access to a basic human need, like water. It’s absolutely unconscionable and we must act deliberately and with urgency to ensure that all Virginians have reliable access to safe, clean water,” said Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, sponsor of the Human Right to Water Resolution (HJ 538).

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated and amplified the critical importance of water as a quality of life issue.

“Whether we are talking about upwards of 9,000 children poisoned by contaminated water in Flint, children drinking lead-tainted water at Richmond Public Schools or families in Petersburg and other localities across the state who have had their water utilities shut off – everyone deserves access to clean potable water,” said Queen Zakia Shabazz, coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative and executive director for United Parents Against Lead.

“Now more than ever Virginia’s elected officials need to commit to securing access to water for every Virginian,” said Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region director for Food & Water Watch. “The pandemic has exacerbated the widespread challenges many residents face in accessing clean, safe, affordable water. That is why we applaud Del. Aird’s leadership in affirming the human right to water.”

“This resolution reminds us all that water is an absolute necessity for life and no one should be forced to go without access due to money. Virginians are counting on the General Assembly to protect our important resources from threats from climate change,” said Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, interim co-director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light. “Many of our neighbors are already fighting water shut-offs as the rising cost of water compromises the ability to pay for other essential items, such as food, housing, and healthcare. We have a moral obligation to protect our natural resources as public goods and to leave a better world for our children.”


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