Latino/as ask: Is Our Community Water Safe?

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For over a year now, Evolution and our client Oral Health Colorado (OHCO) have been meeting tap waterregularly with a coalition of stakeholders* interested in learning about Spanish-speaking Latino/a’s perception of tap water.

To facilitate this learning, OHCO submitted grant requests to the American Dental Association Foundation/Colorado Dental Association and the DentaQuest Foundation. Both requests were fulfilled.

In November 2015, Evolution and OHCO teamed up with community partners Servicios de La Raza (Denver), Aurora Community Connection (Aurora) and El Centro AMISTAD (Boulder) to conduct focus groups in Spanish with over 30 participants.

Our findings are available in a report called “TAP WATER: Exploring Perceptions of Latino/as.” 

Many of our participants used bottled water in place of tap water, saying they didn’t trust pipes, they didn’t trust water providers, and were fearful that tap water would sicken them. They cited water systems in Mexico, which were unsafe. They also cited taste, several of them identifying the smell of bleach in their tap water.

Our most startling finding came when we showed our groups a photograph of a landfill overflowing with plastic bottles. Those who used bottles were certain they were recycled, and all participants were shocked to see them in a landfill. The photograph changed the tone of all three groups to a concern for their children and the earth.

Based on this work, we will be teaming with a Conservation Colorado group called Protégete, and with Spanish language television station Telemundo to create a campaign that will include the educational components desired by our survey participants and also showcase the environmental damage caused by the use of plastic bottles.

Watch for more on this exciting effort in 2016!

*Tap Water Coalition Members: Oral Health Colorado, CO Department of Public Health and Environment, Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, Tri-County Health Department, Denver Public Health, Boulder County Public Health, CO Dental Association, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Stapleton Foundation, CREA Results, Clinica Tepeyac, CO Children’s Campaign, CO Dental Hygiene Association, LiveWell Colorado, and the American Heart Association