Increasing Trust in Tap Water

In 2012, California became the only state in the nation to legally recognize a Human Right to Water, per Assembly Bill 685. Unfortunately, mistrust of tap water has been a persistent challenge, undermining this right, and resulting in negative health and affordability consequences for households.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) is working collaboratively to identify tools and actionable steps to monitor, improve and increase trust in tap water quality in the Los Angeles County. The broader goal is to move the region towards a more equitable and sustainable water future.

LCI hosted At the Tap, a convening that engaged more than 100 community members and other stakeholders in discussions about the challenges and solutions to address mistrust of public drinking water. As a result, LCI launched a working group to develop policy solutions to address drinking water contamination and mistrust due to premise plumbing, pipes which run from the lot line of a property to the tap and are the responsibility of landowners. With participants from water systems, state agencies, the county, and non-profit groups, the working group plans to further develop the (a) legal authorities of tenants and regulators to intervene in cases of premise plumbing contamination, and (b) financing program models targeted toward landlords to incentivize them to upgrade their premise plumbing infrastructure.

A full recording of the convening and a short “highlights” video is available on the Our Water LA website. The convening was made possible with the generous support of the Water Foundation and the leadership of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Justice Center for Water, Environment Now, and the following units at UCLA: LCI’s Sustainable Water Initiative, the Center for Neighborhood KnowledgeSustainable LA Grand Challenges, the Water Technology Research Center, and the Water Faculty Group.

In the Media

Recent media coverage of the Sativa Los Angeles County Water District in Compton underscores the aforementioned work on tap water. Customers’ water quality concerns at the Sativa Los Angeles County Water District led to the decision of an oversight body to abolish the district. Before the vote, the Los Angeles Times and KPCC interviewed Dr. Gregory Pierce of the Luskin Center for Innovation about the issue.

Los Angeles Times: Abolishing a water district isn’t easy – even when it is accused of nepotism, mismanagement, and brown water

KPCC’s Take Two: Interview about Compton’s Water featuring Dr. Gregory Pierce