Turning Off the Tap: Massachusetts’ Looming Water Affordability Crisis
by The Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to The United States Commission on Civil Rights
As a member of the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee (Mass. SAC) of the US Commission on Civil Rights, Professor Martha Davis co-authored a newly-released report on Water Affordability in Massachusetts. Northeastern Law students Nilo Asgari ’22, Linnea Brandt ’22, Samantha Cardwell ’22 and Liam O’Leary ’20 also worked on the report.
“The ongoing pandemic once again brings into sharp focus the precarious state of water access and affordability in the US,” writes Davis in a contribution to the Human Rights at Home (HRAH) blog. “ The human rights and civil rights issues that this situation raises require affirmative government responses, not after-the-fact corrections.”
The Turning off the Tap: Massachusetts’ Looming Water Affordability Crisis report urges Massachusetts to adopt the principle that water is a human right, and to take affirmative steps to get ahead of the affordability crisis before it spirals out of control.
The Committee concludes that: “Massachusetts should declare that access to clean, affordable water is a basic human right, establishing minimum standards for costs as a percentage of income and should standardize and rationalize its fragmented system of water distribution, costs, and assistance for low income residents. We realize that standardization is complicated. There is a long history of local control and a lack of data from local authorities. In addition, different communities derive their water from different sources and through different infrastructure, affecting water quality and costs. But none of this can excuse life threatening inequalities.”