| Philadelphia Water using art to tap into communities
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Philadelphia Water using art to tap into communities

To showcase the benefits of drinking tap water, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is teaming up with Mural Arts Philadelphia to create eye-catching works of H2O-related community art.

Philly Water muralEmbracing the theme of “Drink More Tap,” local artists are working with community volunteers to create public murals (pictured right) to grab the attention of residents while increasing their awareness of the safety, convenience and cost-effectiveness of the city’s tap water. PWD also created a video about the murals project.

Tiffany LedesmaPWD annually surveys customers about their use of tap water, and “roughly 40 percent of Philadelphians report drinking bottled water instead of tap at home,” said Tiffany Ledesma (pictured left), PWD’s public engagement team project manager and a consultant with CDM Smith.

The surveys also show a correlation between the use of bottled water and low-income households.

Nationally, the American Water Works Association recently partnered with Morning Consult to survey consumers about their opinions on tap water. Results indicate that 77 percent of Americans say the quality of their tap water is excellent or good, although Black and Hispanic respondents report a lower level of satisfaction.

A mural designed to promote confidence in tap water was recently completed at Penrose Recreation Center in one of the sections of Philadelphia where buying bottled water is most common. Another mural, planned for a nearby recreation center, will be finalized by the end of the year.

“We believe strongly in the power of public art, especially murals, to create a space to have conversations and build trust with communities through the art-making process,” Ledesma said. “We want to have conversations about how excellent the water PWD sends to every home truly is.”

Teen participates in community muralAt both recreation centers, artist Calo Lopez Rosa is working alongside members of the community to create projects that include portraits of local residents. He began by taking photos of area residents to weave into the mural designs.

“We talked about what they wanted to have in their mural, and that’s the most important part for us – to be able to listen,” said Lopez Rosa, who relocated to Philadelphia from El Salvador. He noted that he feels privileged to drink tap water after living in a country where there was unreliable treatment for drinking water.

(Photos courtesy of Tiffany Ledesma for PWD)