Officials from Los Angeles City and County, CA joined community stakeholders and representatives from various water organizations in honor of the fifth annual Tap Water Day LA on May 9.
The local, Los Angeles based non-profit WeTap initiated Tap Water Day in 2015 with support from Mayor Eric Garcetti, the CA State Water Board, LADWP, LACDPH, The California Endowment and others with the goal of raising awareness of cities’ clean, reliable drinking water.
“Tap water in LA – our tap water is great – it’s clean, it’s high quality, it tastes great … Our tap water is better than bottled water.” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in his 2017 Tap Water Day speech.
Tap Water Day LA reminds us of the importance clean drinking water plays in our lives and should be a point of civic pride especially in light of water quality issues in other parts of the country and the world. “We are grateful for our civic leaders coming together to renew their commitment to improving and maintain existing drinking fountains and add new filling stations in our neighborhoods,” said Evelyn Wendel, Founding Director, WeTap. “We look forward in the coming years when all schools, all parks and all public hubs have a robust drinking fountain network for the health of our communities and our environment.”
In many parts of the world, access to safe drinking water is a luxury — one that many Angelenos take for granted or worse, mistakenly fear tap water and instead opt for bottled water. “Every day, LADWP delivers 550 million gallons of the highest quality water at the lowest possible cost to our 4 million customers in LA,” said Marty Adams, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager. “We want the public to know that our drinking water is protected by hundreds of employees who manage our treatment processes, operate and maintain our treatment facilities and vigilantly monitor and test the water we serve.” Today LADWP is the largest municipally owned and operated retail water utility in the country, serving a population of about 4 million residents and an area of 464 square miles.
Los Angeles’ drinking water meets and exceeds state and federal drinking water standards for all contaminants. In 2016, LADWP supplied nearly 160 billion gallons of drinking water to more than 4 million residents and businesses. Over the 12-month period, water quality teams collected nearly 40,000 water samples throughout the city and conducted more than 140,000 water quality tests for compliance as well as for research and operational improvements.
The U.S. federal government requires more rigorous safety monitoring of municipal tap water than it does of bottled water. Today’s celebration serves to highlight the importance of using our vital water resources for drinking and builds awareness that public fountains provide a sustainable solution for weaning the public off single-use plastic bottles. On average, the U.S. purchases and consumes close to 50 billion plastic bottles a year with only 40 percent being recycled. Bottling and shipping increases the cost and result in unnecessary increases in carbon emissions. The cost of bottled water can cost about $7.50 a gallon. On average LADWP drinking water costs ¢0.02 per gallon.
Public fountains not only provide free drinking water for residents, but also serve as symbols of an expansive system supplying water, which includes a state-of-the-art filtration plant, two aqueducts, three groundwater treatment facilities, dozens of treatment stations, 78 pumping stations, 114 tanks and reservoirs, 421 pressure regulator stations, and 500 miles of trunklines and a 7,200 mile network of distribution pipes. Tap Water Day is a time to remind Angelenos that our public drinking fountains provide an alternative to wasteful plastic bottles and are a direct access to delicious, healthy water.
Executive Director Wendel reminds us, “The goal of Tap Water Day is to simply value tap water – both the quality and access. Public awareness is essential to ensuring our water remains available, tasty and protected.”