News Briefs: City Nixes 'Manholes' for Gender-Neutral 'Maintenance Holes'​

Also in this week's sewer and water news, 220,000 customers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are left without water service after a subcontractor breaks a water main

If you’re going to dismantle the patriarchy from the bottom up, that means starting with the sewers. The city council in Berkeley, California, plans to refer to manholes as “maintenance holes” as part of an ordinance that would formally remove all gendered language from its city code.

The proposal would replace all instances of “he” or “she” in the city code with “they” in an effort to be gender neutral.

“A male-centric municipal code doesn’t reflect the reality of the city of Berkeley,” a city council member tells NBC News.

Fort Lauderdale Loses Water Service

An estimated 220,000 customers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were left without water July 18 after a subcontractor repairing electric lines struck a water main and broke it. A temporary patch had water running again by the next day, although there was a boil-water advisory in place over the weekend.

The city’s recent water crisis highlights the fragility of its sewer and water system, says the South Florida Sun Sentinel, claiming years of neglect could leave the city in a similar predicament in the near future. Officials say if the system had worked properly, water could have been rerouted to another pipe and the public wouldn’t have even realized there was a break.

California Legislature Establishes Safe Drinking Water Fund

This week, the California state legislature made history with the passage of SB 200 and the establishment of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The fund provides more than $1.4 billion over the next decade to assist 1 million Californians who lack safe drinking water. 

The fund will support safe drinking water projects, help consolidate unsustainable small-water systems, and provide subsidies for high operation and maintenance costs for systems in low-income communities throughout the state.

SB 200 is the culmination of over a decade of work by Clean Water Action, community members and partner organizations. It is the result of 12 years of studies, legislative efforts and advocacy by impacted community members.


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