2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Pearl Kan

Pearl Kan

Name of Host Organization: California Rural Legal Assistance
City, State: Salinas, California
Issue area: Environmental Justice
Sponsors: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The Project

Pearl is creating community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and legal advocacy in California’s Salinas Valley to ensure that all rural communities have access to safe drinking water.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Nitrate contamination of drinking water aquifers is a significant and growing problem in the Salinas Valley. Approximately one-third of tested domestic and irrigation wells in the Salinas Valley registered above the nitrate maximum contaminant level set by the California Department of Health. Small, rural, and unincorporated communities within the Salinas Valley are particularly at risk of drinking water contamination, and some of these communities are among the poorest in the state. This project aims to provide rural communities with access to safe drinking water to mitigate their exposure to health risks and economic harm.
Highlights to Date: 
In the first year, Pearl has:
• Co-counseled with Stanford Environmental Law Clinic and Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic on a writ against the State Water Resources Control Board
• Sought discretionary review from the Regional Water Quality Control Board concerning a cooperative groundwater monitoring program
• Explored long-term drinking water solutions for two unincorporated communities
• Helped to establish a water access legal research clinical program at University of California, Davis, School of Law
What's Next: 
In the next year, Pearl plans to:
• Continue to explore long-term water solutions for communities in the Salinas Valley
• Participate in the Salinas Valley Pilot Program to gather comprehensive data related to disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley
• Work with the Local Agency Formation Commission and city governments to highlight the need to provide services to small, unincorporated communities near city boundaries
• Compile a new chapter concerning local government processes in Community Water Center’s “Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy”

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