Community-led Water Testing in Watts
People in Watts live, on average, 12 years less than residents from other parts of Los Angeles. CalEPA ranks several Watts census tracts in the top 5% of the most pollution-burdened communities in the state. Researchers are leading studies centered around environmental injustice in Watts, and 501CTHREE has partnered with and provided resources for the Better Watts Initiative’s seminal lead study.
The Better Watts Initiative (BWI) is a cohort of local nonprofits, activists, artists, medical institutions, and academic representatives working to address the health and environmental justice challenges that plague the historic community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles; the leaders at BWI are young environmental scientists and activists.
In preliminary tests of water quality, BWI researchers found dangerous lead levels in about 20 percent of Watts homes. Thus, 501CTHREE is working alongside the team to help scale testing efforts across Watts to test 1000 homes in the neighborhood for lead-contaminated water. After establishing a Water Box in Watts and connecting with BWI researchers, 501CTHREE donated four photometers and 1,200 test strips to homes to aid the scientists in their ongoing goal to gather lead data for every household in Watts. BWI aims to gather data necessary to spearhead a national environmental movement that puts environmental data in the hands of those affected by injustice.