Fight for updated water infrastructure flows into action

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Tap water doesn't always get a lot of love - even on the 19th anniversary of the United Nations' World Water Day.

About 20 million people get sick from contaminated drinking water every year in the U.S. According to a 2011 Columbia University study, Americans also spend almost 15 billion dollars on bottles of water annually.

But the Public Water Works! campaign released a report about the state of public water today at Los Angeles City Hall, calling for people to revisit their faucets - and for cities and states need to clean them up.

Emily Reuman, a campaign leader, organized this morning's news conference.

"Here in Los Angeles, and across the country, we're really seeing a groundswell of support. We've had a thousand people sign onto the campaign, over 30 mayors have signed on, and so it's clear that people are really calling for the tap," Reuman said. "People want support for their tap water. And that's why today we're out here helping to really call on our public officials to really reinvest in our tap water."

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom is one of those supporting mayors. Reuman and her team plan to start discussions with L.A. City Council members this month.

Updating local infrastructure can be as simple as tightening leaky pipes, Reuman said. A representative of State Assemblymember Betsy Butler says improving L.A.'s water recycling system would also make the city less dependent on water from other states.

Plus, better taps keep water bottles out of trash cans.

"I see this as a good choice to rid the country of the 30 billion bottles that go to landfill every year," said Faber Dewar, the founder of water filtration company Drink Up. "And it's also legislation - we do need to make the government aware that this is an essential service they have to provide, it's an inalienable human right, and we need to update the infrastructure because it's old. The water system is old. And we need to have purer water delivered in our homes."

Water is even a faith issue, said Reverend Susan Stouffer, Director of the Peace Center at United University Church.

"Two hundred and forty thousand water main breaks every day. That's 16 percent of our total use of water around the country. That is enough water to supply the ten largest cities in the U.S. for a day," Stouffer said. "Faith traditions from around the world celebrate the sacredness of water. We're told to share food and drink with those who are in need."

Tags: World Water Day, Rosalie Murphy, infrastructure, Public Water Works, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Faber Dewar, Emily Reuman, Susan Stouffer

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