Recently in Government & Water Category

tapit-dc-blackiphone5.pngWe are really excited to announce the launch of two new mobile applications to help you find free tap water at business and fountain locations in the Metro DC area! 

As part of our partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, our tap water finder is available on both iPhone and Android platforms!

We have partnered with utilities, municipalities and over 400 businesses around the DC region to bring the most comprehensive water refill network available yet. The app allows you to find the nearest location or you can or search by address.  

So head over to the iPhone App Store or Google Play and download the app for your phone!

Please get in touch with any feedback about your experience. Let us know how we can make them better!

Stay tuned for updates and announcements as we expand the TapIt program in DC on Twitter and Facebook.


Nestle Sued for False Advertising Over Bottled Water


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An old ghost is coming back to haunt Nestle, this time as a class action lawsuit leveled against the corporate giant by Chicago Faucet Shoppe for false advertising. After buying Nestle's Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water for years, an alleged tip from a Nestle employee revealed to the Chicago-based business that Nestle's "spring water" source is actually municipal tap water. 

The brand's website and advertising campaign claim the contents are spring water, but this document reveals another story. Ice Mountain Water, sold in 5 gallon bottles meant for office supply, is distinctly referred to as "drinking water" in the document which otherwise is defined as "municipal water and/or well water..." processed by Nestle's treatment plants and repackaged with images of pristine glacial lakes and mountains. 

This information is accessible after some digging, but not easy to find. False advertising is an understandable claim to make. Nestle is not unfamiliar with such legal issues. A similar one had been filed in 2003 by Connecticut over claims made by the Poland Spring brand that their water originated from springs in Maine when in fact, it contained regular  tap water.

The facts clearly speak for themselves. Marketing a product often involves a little misdirection, but in the case of bottled water, the entire point is the source! 

San Francisco Taps It

SFmap.pngSince TapIt first launched with Global Tap in San Francisco last year, the number of hydration stations across the city has gone from a single unit to eight, including two at the San Francisco International Airport. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission promotes these bottle refilling locations as a healthy alternative to single-use plastic water bottles by providing a way to refill on the go.

The 8 stations are located throughout the city, with an interactive Google map pinpointing their locations. The agency has installed the tap stations to provide everyone with free access to high-quality, great tasting tap water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The water costs less than half a penny per gallon, is tested over 100,000 times per year, and is held to higher standards and regulations set by than EPA than some bottled water companies. 

The agency also highlights the evils of plastic water bottles, including citing how costly they are for the environment and how much they contribute to climate change by creating unnecessary waste. A video located on their website provides many examples of people in SF proudly enjoying their tap water thanks to the Drink Tap Project.


Tap and hydration stations is a trend that is not unique to San Francisco. They have also become quite popular on college campuses across the U.S. and in other cities.

Photo Credit: "Outdoor Water Stations in San Francisco" from the SF Public Utilities Commission and powered by Google.

TapIt Launches Water Refill Network in Washington DC!

cap-hill2.jpgWe are pleased to announce we have launched the TapIt water refill network in Washington DC in partnership with DC Water

We now have over 60 locations around the District with more being added everyday! TapIt is excited to help DC Water's excellent water management team promote the Districts great tap water.

So when you are visiting the Capitol, the Whitehouse or you live in the District full time, there is always a water refill location near by. 

You can download or print the DC location map here. You can also now directly access the DC map by going to http://www.tapitwater.com/dc on your PC or mobile phone to find cafe and restaurant refill locations.

Tap WaterFor those that live in the Bay Area, we are unfortunately about to pay for our great water conservation efforts. ABC7 news reported that due to water conservation efforts, water usage have decreased so significantly the utilities company has to raise rates in order to meet budget demands. In a way, we must give ourselves a great pat on the back for conserving water so intently we've made a significant difference in water sustainability! 

Nonetheless, the average 16% rate hike in your water bill does not mean you must suffer from higher costs. There are several things that we can do to continue conserving water without breaking the bank or changing our lifestyle!

  • Some water districts have programs that give out free water-saving gadgets like aerators. Check your local water district's website. Aerators are small devices that attach to more modern faucets that maintains water pressure while using less water. According to Envirogadget.com, traditional taps without an aerator flows at around 15 Liters per minute. With an aerator, the volume is cut down to 6 liters per minute. That's a 60% reduction in water!

  • Place a blue dye tank tablet in your toilet. If your bowl water turns blue without flushing, you know there's a leak in the tank. San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission gives out free flapper and fill valves to fix the leaks. 

  • Spend $10 or so on an inexpensive moisture sensor for your garden. It will let you know exactly when your plants may really need watering and when you are just drowning them from the ground up while running up your bill.

  • When brushing your teeth, fill a cup with water for rinsing and turn off the tap instead of running the tap or catching water with your hands. It minimizes unused wasted water. 

  • Four words: low flow shower heads. According to Conservation Warehouse International, pre-1994 shower heads installed in your bathrooms has a 20% higher flow rate than more modern shower heads. The Environmental Protection Agency have noted that showering is the highest water-usage activity in residential homes, which is why it is important to moderate your water usage here. Modern Low Flow Shower Heads are inexpensive and very efficient, which allows you to take the same pressurized shower without the high water flow.
What else do you do in your home to help conserve water?
Florida.pngAlthough many Americans live in regions where April showers bring May flowers, some parts of the country know April as one of the least drought-resistant months of the year. In Florida, April is not only one of the driest months of the year, but is also a peak demand month for use of public water and other water sources.

Floridians can now highlight April as a time to conserve our planet's most precious resource. Several counties and municipalities have officially designated April as Water Conservation Month. The St. John's River Water Management District, which contains an 18-county area, is among parts of Florida to also put water use restrictions in effect. In a state where thousands begin their outdoor lawn care and irrigation activities in April, many sources have given Floridians new ways to reduce water use.

The Southwest Florida Management District is asking residents to pledge to conserve water using specific techniques such as replacing high-use shower heads. The American Water Works Association in Florida (AWWA) also offers suggestions for ways residents can conserve through April and beyond.

The state of Arizona is also hailing April as Water Awareness Month and is asking residents to be conscious of the amount of water each person uses. Additionally, there is a calendar of events for Arizona residents who would like learn ways to be more environmentally conscious and participate in community sustainability initiatives.

Even outside states where drought is common, throughout the month of April people begin to use more water for outdoor activities nationwide. By using some of the sources provided for Florida residents, everyone can ensure a more sustainable start to spring.

Photo Credit: "Life in Sunny Florida" by Meaghan Gloede 
drought.pngThe Mediterranean island of Cyprus faces  freshwater shortages and a political division. Although both the Turkish and Greek halves of Cyprus are home to drought and insufficient drinking water resources, the island has not become unified in the search for solutions. Several of the island's reservoirs have dried up, and parts of Greek Cyprus have lost up to 50% of its trees due to drought. Desalination plants have been constructed to provide additional water, but have not been able to meet freshwater demands.

The proposed solution, announced by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 7th, is a 66 mile underwater pipeline from Turkey's mainland. The pipeline will provide the northern half of Cyprus with 75 million cubic meters of water annually. The planning began in 2010 and the pipeline will be operational by 2013, once the Alakpru Dam is completed in Turkey. This will help the northern Turkish region of the island have access to safe drinking water and will lessen the amount of needed water imports via tankers.

The pipeline project plans have been met with some opposition. The pipeline will only provide additional water resources to Turkish territory and could therefore amplify battles over water resources and increase political tension between Greek and Turkish Cyprus. Many have suggested that unifying water resources between the two halves of the island is necessary in order to ensure that all of Cyrus' people have access to safe drinking water. There is also concern that Turkey's dams will not be enough to end the territory's shortage.

It is likely that as more regions fall prey to serious drought, political battles over water resources will be paramount. We can hope that in Cyprus and elsewhere around the globe, new technology and conservation efforts will lessen the negative impacts of drought and growing population on access to clean water.

Photo Credit: "Drought" by Bert Kauffman via flickr used under the creative commons license
glassofwaterK.pngAs water scarcity becomes a greater concern worldwide, more governments and communities have begun investigating the process labeled "toilets to tap": the recycling and re-purification of sewage into safe drinking water. 

With nearly 1 out of every 8 people on the planet still lacking access to safe drinking water, governments have begun implementing this solution to ensure that water remains as much of a plentiful and domestic resource as possible. Although public response to recycling waste water to the tap has not been positive, one might be surprised to learn of the benefits of "toilets to tap" systems and how many regions have already installed this purification method.

Singapore has turned to recycling sewage and waste water, and millions of the nation's people have accepted this new move as necessary. The country has previously relied on Malaysia and other neighboring lands for water resources, but there has been a push to make Singapore water self-sufficient. Previously, recycled waste water has been utilized for Singapore's industrial needs, but has also begun more frequently running through the tap. In Windhoek, Namibia, sewage purification has been a reality for several decades. With wider public acceptance of the technology, recycling waste water has the potential to end water-rights disputes that are likely to form in nations that often face shortages, such as the US, China, Egypt, and Vietnam.

Recycling waste water for home uses is also present in the US. This method of recycled water is used by NASA for the space station. Toilet-to-tap water recycling has also been a reality in Orange County and San Diego, California since 2008. Finally, nearly 5% of all tap water from Fairfax Water, a company that supplies to more than 1.5 million in Northern Virginia, comes from recycled sewage. Fairfax first began using this method of water-recycling in the 1970's and continues to expand its use.

The obvious barrier to this more drought-resilient technology is public aversion to drinking water that was once sewage. Psychologists have studied the reaction to toilet-to-tap systems and observed that even proving water is safe and clean is not enough to settle the stomachs of citizens who feel they could be drinking pure sewage. In truth, however, recycled waste water might not only be the answer to shortages caused by climate and growing population, but it is also generally cleaner than bottled water. The three stages of water purification used during this process ensure that water quality meets EPA tap water regulations, which are stricter than those placed on bottled water manufacturers. Furthermore, only 10% of this recycled waste water actually comes from toilets, despite the method's nickname. The rest comes from other sources such as showers, sinks, and washing machines.

First, water is filtered through an intricate purification system that removes harmful bacteria. Second, waste water molecules undergo reverse osmosis, which forces incredible pressure upon the molecules that are then pushed through plastic. Lastly, the water is exposed to ultra violet light and small samples of peroxide, eliminating even the tiniest unwanted bacteria. This three step process purifies water to a higher regulatory standard than even popular and expensive bottled spring water.

Should the public learn to accept "toilets to tap", the benefits will be seen world-wide. Water-related conflict will become a worry of the past as each nation could be self-sufficient producers of water resources to support growing population. This technology is also eco-friendly as it directly recycles a precious resource instead of harvesting new sources of water such as through energy-intensive desalination. It could also give more than 800 million people access to clean water who currently live without it. In the future of water purification, we hope to see toilet-to-tap triumph!

Photo Credit: "Glass of Water With Light" by mike_w40 used under the creative commons copyright  

20ozbottles.jpgNestle Waters recent appeal to end London, Ontario's three-year prohibition of bottled water has stirred up the coals of debate amongst city councilmen and has put the bottle ban's future into question.

 

Passed in 2008, London's ban on the selling of bottled water at city-owned sites has appeared to be a relatively popular initiative: "I didn't receive any phone calls in the last three years-no complaints, nothing," said Councilman Bill Armstrong. Within the three years of the bottled water ban's existence it has benefited the citizens of London both economically and environmentally. It has reduced the amount of single use plastic containers that enter the London waste stream by an estimated 25%, and the economical tap water substitute has cut the annual expense of drinking water by over $1,000 per citizen.

 

But the supposedly harmless suggestion to review the bill, by bottled water industry giant Nestle Waters, has councilmen weighing the rationality behind the 2008 ban. Councilman Paul Meerbergen speaks against the ban, calling it "a real step backwards." Those opposed to the ban argue that the bottled water directly competes with sugary beverages, and that removing this healthy option compromises the health of London's citizens. 

 

One of the bill's biggest criticizers, Mayor Joe Fontana, claims that to deny people the opportunity to buy bottled water is "philosophically dumb." But it does not take a philosopher to see that their argument based in maintaining the "citizens health" contains more holes then a pasta strainer.

 

The city of London, Ontario can easily create a health conscious community without bottled water by implementing and promoting tap water alternatives. The argument of  "citizen's health" also ignores the environmental impact of the single-use bottle entirely. Communal water bottle refilling stations are just one of the many ways that London officials can pacify their fears of sugary excess amongst citizens, while creating ecological improvement for their community.

 

 

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Looking to close its $8 million dollar budget gap, Yale's municipal assembly is urging the city of New Haven, Connecticut to cut out its $32,000 yearly expense on bottled water in favor of low cost, well-regulated and readily available tap water.

 

The new petition, led by Yale Universities chair of city services and the environmental committee Justin Elicker, would end the supply of bottled water to New Havens municipal offices, which currently receive regular shipments of 5-gallon jugs of bottled water. Recognizing the irony in regards to the 5-gallon jugs supplied to the municipal office, Elicker states, "it is just tap water, filtered a little bit, from Worcester, Mass." If passed the city order would also end the purchase of personal sized bottles of water, which are bought by the city and resold to New Haven public school students.

 

Calling this proposal a "no-brainer," Elicker reasons that "The way things stand, people perceive they have to pay $1.50 for bottled water every time. But the reality is that tap water is of very high quality, so we need to be teaching our kids that tap water is good and healthy." The city of New Haven has backed up these claims by inquiring local water authorities to conduct numerous tests, which proved the water was in fact of a high purity level and well-regulated.

 

It has been estimated that New Havens switch to tap water will decrease the cities water expenses from $32,000 to a mere $160 annually. The proposals success would also help reduce the citizen's day-to-day expenses and help to educate the community on the superiority of tap water. Yale alderman Matt Smith added that among the fiscal benefits the environmental benefits of consuming less plastic and reducing interstate trucking give even more reason to support New Haven's tap water proposal.