AB 685 headed to the Governor’s
Desk – Your Veto Request Letters are Needed!
September 7 Update
AB 685 passed from the Assembly on August 29, just two days
before the legislative session ended. ACWA is urging Governor Brown to veto the
After AB 685 received its final floor vote, a member of the coalition
requested that Assembly Member Eng submit a letter to the Assembly Journal
clarifying the intent behind his bill. “Letters to the Journal” are used to
establish an official record of legislative intent where such intent is not
clear on the face of a bill. After reviewing Assembly Member Eng’s letter, ACWA
and other coalition members continue to have substantial concerns. In fact, the
ACWA State Legislative Committee voted to seek a veto of the bill. Simply put,
efforts to clarify the Author’s intent should have been made in the language of
the bill itself.
ACWA is submitting its own veto request to Governor Brown.
Your individual veto request letters are needed to demonstrate that water
agencies up and down the state have concerns with the bill. Governor Brown has
until September 30 to sign or veto the bill.
If you have any questions about ACWA’s position on the bill, please
contact Cindy Tuck at (916) 441-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Eng) would declare that it is the policy of the state that every human has the
right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water. ACWA understands that
establishing this “right” is only a first step for the sponsors of this bill.
Should AB 685 become law, the consequences could be significant.
codifying a “right to water” might seem like a laudable proposal, AB 685 could
have major negative consequences that have been difficult for the author and
sponsors to recognize. Most concerning to ACWA is that the bill could be misinterpreted
to prohibit a water agency from turning off a non-paying customer’s water. The
attached sample letter explains some of the specific policy concerns that ACWA
has with the bill
been working with a coalition for the last year and a half to educate Assembly
Member Eng about the problems his bill would create. The coalition has offered
amendments on multiple occasions that would make the bill better, while still
preserving the original stated intent of his legislation. However, the
coalition and the sponsors were unable to reach an agreement.
ACWA is urging
member agencies to send letters to Governor Brown requesting that he veto the
bill. A sample letter is included below that highlights the concerns the ACWA
coalition has relating to this bill. Please send your letter to Governor Brown,
Assembly Member Eng, and ACWA staff.
Click the "Take Action Now" link to edit and
send the sample letter below to Governor Brown.
Please be sure to edit
the section of the letter to reference your agency name and give examples of
how this legislation could affect your agency.
September XX, 2012
The Honorable Edmund G. Grown Jr.
Governor, State of California
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: Assembly Bill 685 (Eng) – Request for Veto
Dear Governor Brown:
I am writing on behalf of (INSERT AGENCY NAME) to express our strong opposition to AB 685 (Eng).
The bill has the potential to upset decades of legal precedent while doing
nothing to address the challenges of providing safe drinking water to
685 would declare that it is the policy of the state that every human being has
the right to clean, affordable, and accessible water. While this is a noble
policy goal, California Water Code Section 106 already declares that “the use
of water for domestic purposes” is the “highest use” of water. This basic water
policy has been vetted through the courts for decades. Codifying a new “human
right to water” without considering existing legal authority will lead to
conflicts that have not been adequately addressed by this legislation. For
example, by using the words “right to water” and “affordable” without any other
context, the bill could be misinterpreted to prohibit a water agency from
terminating the water service of a non-paying customer.
bill is so ambiguous that it would invite endless litigation in order to define
the meaning of this new “human right to water.” The Senate Appropriations
Committee was sufficiently concerned with potential state costs to request an
amendment that would exempt the State from any new obligation to provide water
or develop water infrastructure. The Senate Committee on Appropriations noted that
the State might be liable for the cost of providing safe drinking water should
the law be interpreted as creating an enforceable right. While amendments made
to AB 685 exempted the State from some of this liability, the bill could still
leave local agencies exposed to costly litigation. Local agencies cannot afford
the uncertainty that this legislation would create.
California Water Code Section 106 is already a fundamental
cornerstone of the water rights system in this state. Creating a new “right to
water” in California law could potentially upset decades of legal precedent and
negatively affect the ability of water agencies to provide safe, clean and
affordable water to all their customers. For these reasons, we strongly urge
you to veto AB 685.
cc: The Honorable
of California Water Agencies