Environmental Justice in the United States: The Human Right to Water

Meshel, Tamar. “Environmental Justice in the United States: The Human Right to Water.” Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, July 2018, pp. 264–297., digital.law.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1819/8WJELP264.pdf.
Year Published: 
Washington Journal of Environmental Law and Policy

Many low-income communities, communities of color, and indigenous communities in the United States are suffering from unequal access to safe and affordable water. This is partially the result of an ineffective and fragmented legal framework governing water issues in the country. In addition, the notion of a human right to water and sanitation, accepted internationally to reinforce and protect human needs related to water, has yet to be meaningfully recognized in the United States. This article sets out, first, to examine the legal framework governing access to freshwater in the United States and the concerns underlying the reluctance of the federal government and most states to acknowledge the human right to water and sanitation as a legal right. The article then assesses the potential of such recognition to promote laws and policies that would ensure water justice for vulnerable or disadvantaged communities across the United States.

water rights, water access, water quality, sanitation, human rights, indigenous communities