ABC News And National Geographic To Bring “Our America: Trouble On Tap” To ABC Owned Television Stations During Earth Month

ABC Owned television stations will honor Earth month with a new documentary series in partnership with ABC News and National Geographic, Our America: Trouble on Tap, a three-part series that will examine the U.S. Water Crisis and will feature a number of prominent thought leaders and scientists.

What’s Happening:

  • As issues of access to safe drinking water make headlines across the United States, ABC Owned Television Stations are producing a three-part documentary series with ABC News and National Geographic titled Our America: Trouble on Tap.
  • Our America: Trouble on Tap is a three-part documentary series – produced by Tracy J. Wholf, coordinating producer of the climate unit at ABC News, and Justin Allen, executive producer with ABC Owned Television Stations – that looks at how environmental pollution, climate change and aging infrastructure are gradually eroding the ability for more and more communities across the United States to have access to free and potable drinking water. Over the last few decades, the safe and available drinking water that many Americans have taken for granted is now at risk. ABC Owned Television Stations and their Data Journalism unit, whose data was utilized to show the severity of the contamination levels across the United States and the communities they impact, in partnership with ABC News and National Geographic, will take viewers across America to examine this emerging crisis and offer solutions along the way.

  • The documentary series will include three hourlong episodes:
    • The first episode, “Life with Forever Chemicals,” premiering April 21, takes a look at per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination in North Carolina. This episode takes viewers to Cape Fear, North Carolina, often referred to as ground zero for PFAS water contamination or water polluted by toxic “forever chemicals.” For decades, the drinking water supply for more than 250,000 people was contaminated as a result of a chemical company dumping toxic PFAS into the Cape Fear River. Years after the contamination was first publicly revealed, the region continues to grapple with ongoing health concerns, multiple lawsuits, and constructing costly water treatment plants as it struggles to cope with decades of chronic exposure.
    • The second episode, “Chicago’s $8 Billion Water Problem,” will premiere in July and examine lead pipes and water infrastructure in Chicago. More than 30 years after lead was banned as a plumbing material by the federal government, lead-based pipes are still carrying water to millions of homes across America, including Chicago which has one of the highest concentrations of lead pipes in the country. With an estimated 400,000 lead pipes delivering water to Chicago-area residents, “It’s an $8 billion problem,” according to Andrea Cheng, Chicago’s water department commissioner. This episode examines the key issues of water infrastructure to explore whether bills such as Senator Cory Booker’s Water Infrastructure Funding Act and others will help alleviate some of the financial strain on communities and truly help solve the many issues hitting residents, often in communities that are predominantly Black, Latino and Indigenous.
    • The third episode, “Drilling into California’s Water Crisis,” will premiere in August and focus on the effects of drought in California. In late November 2022, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that nearly 85% of California was in severe drought conditions or higher. While the current drought conditions have changed, due to recent winter 2023 precipitation, California continues to experience water emergencies throughout the state as resources continue to vary, based on current conditions. This episode takes viewers to Orosi, California, to check in with a family whose water supply from the state is set to expire in four months. What will happen to the water they use to drink, cook and bathe with? California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan around water resilience and retention will be examined; and the process of subsidence, the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land, will also be explored, including the process as it relates to water and the effects it can have on land.
  • The first episode will premiere April 21 – in time for Earth Day on April 22 – at and on Hulu on April 22.
  • The series will also debut April 22 on linear across the eight ABC stations ABC7/WABC-TV New York, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, 6abc/WPVI-TV Philadelphia, ABC7/KGO-TV San Francisco, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston, ABC11/WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham and ABC30/KFSN-TV Fresno. It will be available on the 24/7 streaming platforms, 32 connected TV apps across streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku and available April 22 on Hulu.
  • ABC Owned Television Stations, which collectively reach 23% of households across all U.S. television, have made a commitment to produce high-impact content representing various issues and voices within communities and newsrooms across the country. Our America: Trouble on Tap will aim to inform audiences on the complex challenges facing everyday residents and lawmakers alike, when it comes to access to clean drinking water in the United States. The series will feature scientists, government officials and activists, and will amplify the voices of a number of individuals and families directly affected by these water issues.
  • What They’re Saying:

    • Debra OConnell, President, Disney Entertainment, Networks: “Our America: Trouble on Tap is a powerful and thoughtful exploration of the growing issues surrounding Americans’ access to clean drinking water. The series brings together the talent and expertise of the amazing teams from ABC Owned Television Stations, National Geographic, and ABC News with national and local experts and leaders to ask what we can do to solve these problems and protect the health of people across the country. I’m incredibly proud of the work these teams have done to bring this informative and timely topic to light.”
    • Chad Matthews, president, ABC Owned Television Stations: “Issues around access to clean water vary across the country. Our Data Journalism team is looking at information specific to local markets and working to help tell stories that offer viewers greater context and understanding around how water – or lack of water – may be impacting them. We focus on specific problems, possible solutions and tell the stories of those living it firsthand.”

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    Tony Betti
    Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.