Water Justice, a Shared Vision for the Future

For World Water Day 2023, we affirm our commitment to water justice and elevate the Oregon Water Justice Framework, recently released by the Oregon Water Futures Project, a collaboration between water and environmental justice interests, Indigenous peoples, communities of color, low-income communities, and academic institutions. Oregon Environmental Council is proud to be a member of the Oregon Water Futures Project.

Clean water is foundational to every aspect of our lives. Yet in Oregon, far too many people struggle every day to have their water needs met. We must continue to work to promote improved water quality, protect natural resources, and make healthy water affordable and accessible.

kid splashing in water with hands in air

Hear from Lynny Brown of the Willamette Partnership, a member organization of the Oregon Water Futures Project.

Question: When it comes to water justice in Oregon today and a shared vision for the future, what’s your why?

Lynny Brown: Everyone has a story to tell when we ask people to share a water memory. Some stories are about family or spirituality, while others are about resourcefulness or ingenuity. All these experiences should be incorporated into how we care for water in the state. 

On this World Water Day, I think about all of the people in our community who do not have access to clean water right now, and that is unacceptable. Water justice is about moving policy to ensure everyone has access to clean, affordable, and sufficient water and sanitation. It’s also about asking how we incorporate into our management practices the ways communities connect with water through story, prayer, knowledge, play, work, food, and culture. 

We can only resolve water disparities by engaging frontline community members, especially Tribes and communities of color, as water actors and community assets that have creative and powerful solutions to our current water issues. In doing so, we can impact how the future of water in Oregon is imagined through storytelling, capacity building, relationship building, policymaking, and community-centered advocacy at the state and local level.

FRAMEWORK FOR WATER JUSTICE

Based on direct community engagement from throughout Oregon, The Oregon Water Justice Framework offers creative solutions to water challenges that the state faces. The framework provides policymakers with a roadmap for centering equity as they weigh the state’s many water needs and points to six community-driven water justice priorities: Indigenous Water Justice Leadership, Renter’s Rights, Water Access & Affordability, Natural & Built Infrastructure for Clean Water, Emergency Preparedness, Community Empowerment

STATEWIDE REPORT ON WATER JUSTICE

The State of Water Justice in Oregon: Read more about water justice in Oregon in a recent report that builds on OEC’s work in the Oregon Water Futures Project and expands the base of evidence demonstrating how frontline communities are impacted by Oregon’s water challenges. 

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