02.02.21 — 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 '21 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."

Davis teaches Constitutional Law, US Human Rights Advocacy and Professional Responsibility. She is a faculty director for the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy and the NuLawLab. In 2015-2016, she held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI), Lund University, in Lund, Sweden. She continued her work with RWI in 2017-2018, when she received a Fulbright Specialist Award, and she is now an affiliated scholar of the institute. She is also a member of the expert committee of Human Right 2 Water, a Geneva-based development organization that advocates for water and human rights.

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