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Show Me the Water! It Is Time for Congress to Acknowledge the Human Right to Water Access

January 2006

Citation: ELR 10047

Author: Chad West

Editor's Summary: The majority of U.S. citizens do not think twice about water usage when they take a shower, flush their toilets, or wash their cars. Yet 1.95 million people in the United States lack basic access to sufficient water and sanitation. The international community is already taking steps to ensure that water conflicts are limited and resources are protected for the future. In fact, many nations are declaring that water is a human right and that all citizens have the right to access and sanitation. State legislation and court decisions within the United States show a similar movement toward a cleaner environment and better water management. The U.S. Congress, however, has yet to take any stand. This Article argues that the time has come for Congress to advance international and state interests by acknowledging that the right to water, like the right to life or the right to be free, is fundamental to all citizens. The author argues that Congress must take immediate steps to provide sufficient clean and accessible water to Americans whose current water resources do not meet World Health Organization standards. He urges Congress to affirm the Water for the World Resolution and to sign the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, thereby allowing Congress to take the necessary first steps in acknowledging water's importance to international and domestic communities.

Chad West is a student at Texas Tech University School of Law. He served as Coordinator for the Texas Tech Law Review Symposium, Precious, Worthless, or Immeasurable: The Value and Ethic of Water, which took place in November 2005. Mr. West has worked with the Environmental Law Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which is the Texas equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After graduation in May 2006, Mr. West will clerk for the Honorable Terrie Livingston of the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, Texas.

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