Erin Huber grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, near the Great Lakes, where clean fresh water is abundant and tap water is sometimes taken for granted. As a humanitarian and an environmentalist, Huber spearheaded rooftop gardens and farmers’ markets, but eventually honed her focus to water. Huber founded the Drink Local Drink Tap (DLDT) campaign in 2009, and, as the organization’s executive director, she spends much of her time giving speeches and designing activities to make U.S. communities aware of their local water resources and to educate about water scarcity in other parts of the world. For example, beach clean-ups connect communities with their local waters, while having elementary school students try to lift a 40-pound jerrycan teaches humility. “I hope that they go further into their lives and remember that they’re lucky to have a faucet,” Huber says. “Some people have never used one.”
Huber visited one classroom whose teacher was born and raised in Uganda. The U.S. students were writing letters back and forth to Ugandan students — living near their teacher’s hometown — who were detailing their harsh living conditions. “The second I heard ‘no water,’ I knew that I had to do something about it and started designing a project the next day,” Huber remembers. In June, DLDT drilled its first borehole at the rural school in Uganda’s Luweero District, and she says that her team plans to install taps there, in addition to scoping out another two-part irrigation project for under-cultivated farmland. “In our projects, we really focus on having a sustainable water source,” Huber says, “rather than just showing up somewhere and digging a hole and running away and never looking back.”
Meanwhile, Huber is also producing a documentary called “Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda,” which will tell the stories of how DLDT shares the privilege of tap water access with people in need. Huber has plans to show the film at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2013, as well as public television. “We had all these huge dreams of lakefront development and getting people to care about combined sewer overflows and all of those things,” Huber says. “Then we started to realize that it’s very hard for people to care about huge things that they don’t understand, if they’re not even thinking about the water they put in their own body.”
Lydia Belanger is an editorial intern for Circle of Blue. She studies journalism as an undergraduate at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
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