One obstacle to carrying our own water bottles can be the difficulty finding water fountains or other sources for refilling those bottles when we’re out in the world. Since today is World Water Day, I thought I would give you a rundown of some of the strategies I use, as well as tell you about an awesome new Android app.
WeTap Water Fountain Mapping App
WeTap is a project developed by Evelyn Wendell, one of the inspiring activists profiled in my upcoming book, in conjunction with the Pacific Institute. One of the project’s goals is to create a database of the world’s water fountains, including their locations and operating conditions, and to provide the information to the public and relevant decision makers. To that end, WeTap has just released the beta version of a brand new Android app that uses Google maps and GPS technology to allow users to search for nearby water fountains and also–and perhaps most importantly–add water fountains to the database.
The app is super easy to use. To simply search for nearby fountains, you can either use the “Track GPS position” feature to zoom in on your location, or search for a particular address.
To add a new fountain, drag the map until the green dot is over the exact location of the fountain, and click “save.”
Next, you’ll get a screen allowing you to input a name for the location, notes about it, and the condition of the fountain.
Once the fountain is saved, you should be able to upload a photo, if you wish. Unfortunately, the photo upload feature is not working for me on my phone. Perhaps this is one of those beta wrinkles that must be worked out.
What I love about this app is that anyone with an Android phone can use it no matter where they are in the world. As long as you can find the location on a Google map, you can map and find drinking fountains. WeTap is only in the first stages of this project and will be working on developing the ability to add fountains via the WeTap website. They’d also love to develop an iPhone app. Do you know a developer who’d like to help out this non-profit project? Please tell the folks at WeTap!
Our participation in this project is very important… not only to help individuals find water fountains but also to let city officials know exactly where all the water fountains are and whether they do or do not work. We can help play a part in supporting and upgrading our public water infrastructure instead of resorting to bottled water!
Free Soda Fountain Water
Another strategy I use to fill my bottle for free is to use the free water provided at most self-serve soda fountains. Some fountains have a separate dispenser for water.
Other fountains have a little tab attached to one of the other beverages that you push to get plain water without flavoring. Usually still water will come out of a dispenser for iced tea or other non-carbonated beverage, as Hawaiian blogger Kay discovered at Costco one day. She was so excited to learn she could get plain water from the soda fountain that she wrote a whole blog post about it and included this helpful image:
When filling my bottle from a self-serve soda fountain, I generally do not ask permission to do it. The store doesn’t charge for water anyway, so I just march right up and start filling. As I see it, I’m relieving the store employees from having to deliberate about whether or not they can allow me to fill my own container. So far, I have not had anyone stop me or even make a comment.
TapIt Water Restaurant Program
While it might be easy to fill up at a self-serve station, getting water from a full serve restaurant can be more challenging. The TapIt Water project encourages restaurants to pledge to refill anyone’s bottle for free, whether they are a customer or not, and is compiling a database of participating restaurants. You can use the mobile website to find water on the go or download the iPhone app.
What are other strategies you use to fill your bottle on the go? Would you fill from a public restroom sink, for example? Inquiring minds would like to know.
P.S. Here are some other green bloggers who have posted about water issues today. Did you write a post for World Water Day? Feel free to add it to the growing list at the bottom!