Fifth Annual Tap Water Day Shows Clean Drinking Water A Basic Human Right

Officials from Los Angeles City and County, CA joined community stakeholders and representatives from various water organizations in honor of the fifth annual Tap Water Day LA on May 9.

The local, Los Angeles based non-profit WeTap initiated Tap Water Day in 2015 with support from Mayor Eric Garcetti, the CA State Water Board, LADWP, LACDPH, The California Endowment and others with the goal of raising awareness of cities’ clean, reliable drinking water.

“Tap water in LA – our tap water is great – it’s clean, it’s high quality, it tastes great … Our tap water is better than bottled water.” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in his 2017 Tap Water Day speech.

Tap Water Day LA reminds us of the importance clean drinking water plays in our lives and should be a point of civic pride especially in light of water quality issues in other parts of the country and the world. “We are grateful for our civic leaders coming together to renew their commitment to improving and maintain existing drinking fountains and add new filling stations in our neighborhoods,” said Evelyn Wendel, Founding Director, WeTap. “We look forward in the coming years when all schools, all parks and all public hubs have a robust drinking fountain network for the health of our communities and our environment.”

In many parts of the world, access to safe drinking water is a luxury — one that many Angelenos take for granted or worse, mistakenly fear tap water and instead opt for bottled water. “Every day, LADWP delivers 550 million gallons of the highest quality water at the lowest possible cost to our 4 million customers in LA,” said Marty Adams, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager. “We want the public to know that our drinking water is protected by hundreds of employees who manage our treatment processes, operate and maintain our treatment facilities and vigilantly monitor and test the water we serve.” Today LADWP is the largest municipally owned and operated retail water utility in the country, serving a population of about 4 million residents and an area of 464 square miles.

Los Angeles’ drinking water meets and exceeds state and federal drinking water standards for all contaminants. In 2016, LADWP supplied nearly 160 billion gallons of drinking water to more than 4 million residents and businesses. Over the 12-month period, water quality teams collected nearly 40,000 water samples throughout the city and conducted more than 140,000 water quality tests for compliance as well as for research and operational improvements.

The U.S. federal government requires more rigorous safety monitoring of municipal tap water than it does of bottled water. Today’s celebration serves to highlight the importance of using our vital water resources for drinking and builds awareness that public fountains provide a sustainable solution for weaning the public off single-use plastic bottles. On average, the U.S. purchases and consumes close to 50 billion plastic bottles a year with only 40 percent being recycled. Bottling and shipping increases the cost and result in unnecessary increases in carbon emissions. The cost of bottled water can cost about $7.50 a gallon. On average LADWP drinking water costs ¢0.02 per gallon.

Public fountains not only provide free drinking water for residents, but also serve as symbols of an expansive system supplying water, which includes a state-of-the-art filtration plant, two aqueducts, three groundwater treatment facilities, dozens of treatment stations, 78 pumping stations, 114 tanks and reservoirs, 421 pressure regulator stations, and 500 miles of trunklines and a 7,200 mile network of distribution pipes. Tap Water Day is a time to remind Angelenos that our public drinking fountains provide an alternative to wasteful plastic bottles and are a direct access to delicious, healthy water.

Executive Director Wendel reminds us, “The goal of Tap Water Day is to simply value tap water – both the quality and access. Public awareness is essential to ensuring our water remains available, tasty and protected.”

For more information, visit PPC member WeTap.

Join our global Coalition.

Aiming to end the single-use plastic epidemic, Tap implores users to “Drink different” with its network of reusable bottle Refill Stations available to users in 30 countries and growing

Los Angeles, CA – Today Tap Projects Inc., a “soft(ware) drink company,” launched its namesake app, Tap – the world’s first global search engine for clean drinking water. Consumers report that the prevailing reason why they buy bottled water is “convenience.” Instead, Tap believes that bottles are purchased because thirst is highly inconvenient. Anyone can search online for the nearest gas station, coffee shop or nail salon, but when it comes to thirst, what options does one have? Go ahead, open Google Maps and search “water fountain” – how many fountains do you see?

Now, ask Siri or Alexa, “Where can I fill up my water bottle?”… They’ll have to get back to you on that. In the history of mankind, no one has ever indexed the locations and prices of clean water around the world…until now.

Tap has built a search engine for clean water – as long as people carry a reusable bottle, they will never have to buy bottled water again. From Amsterdam to New Delhi to Los Angeles, Tap helps everyone find water by connecting it to the Internet. Tap’s free app geolocates users to the closest water refill stations, empowering everyone to #Drinkdifferent by knowing where to fill up their own bottle. The app’s network includes free public drinking fountains, bottle refill stations such as those in an airport, and water “ATMs” where people purchase “unpackaged” water to refill an existing container. This app also helps drives awareness, foot traffic, and sales for businesses in the rapidly growing Tap Authorized Refill Network, which is composed of over 34,000 cafes, restaurants, and other businesses in 30 countries around the globe – that’s more locations than Starbucks globally. One day there will be millions of Tap refill locations.

“Our team has one mission: to save Earth and the people on it,” shared Samuel Ian Rosen, Founder and CEO of Tap. “Approximately one percent of Earth’s water is fresh and accessible. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Water is a basic human right, but it will be priced as a commodity as we face global scarcity. People around the world will use Tap to find the cheapest, cleanest water, thereby decoupling our need to quench thirst from the plastic bottle causing horrific pollution. Water will be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century. Cleaning up our planet and preventing further climate change is one of the largest economic opportunities of the next decade.”

With Tap, thirsty consumers can simply open the app and filter the closest Refill Stations by whatever they crave, from unfiltered tap water to sparkling or flavored water. Together, Tap and its network of refill partners are freeing consumers of the marketing veil the water industry holds over our most essential resource. Globally, humans buy approximately 1,000,000 water bottles every minute, yet less than 10% of the world’s plastic is properly recycled. At this rate, the amount of single-use plastic ending up in our oceans will outweigh fish by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Today, powered by its network of influencers, celebrities, entrepreneurs and brand partners, Tap invites the world to #Drinkdifferent and pledge not to purchase single-use plastic water bottles for 30 days. The average American purchases 167 water bottles a year – roughly one bottle every two days. In only 30 days, the #Drinkdifferent social movement could save 4.8 million plastic bottles from landfills and our oceans, even if just one-percent of Tap’s social media reach completes the pledge.

Additional Tap features include:

● Directions – Navigate to Refill Stations with quick walking directions.

● Refill Station profiles – Find additional information about refill stations, like contact information

and other products or services they offer.

● Refill Station preferences – Filter through Refill Stations by selecting the water type like flat,

sparkling, purified, or chilled. Users can also filter through types of Refill Stations such as

public fountains, water ATMs, or pet-friendly.

Tap’s Current Refill Network includes:

● 34,000 Refill Stations

● 30+ Countries

● 7,112 Cities

● Popular cafes and restaurants, including Shake Shack, Umami burger, sweetgreen, Van Leeuwen, Dr. Smood, Bareburger, Barry’s Bootcamp and more.

“Barry’s is working on reducing single-use plastics across its studios,” stated Vicky Land, V.P. of Communications and Brand Strategy for Barry’s Bootcamp. “Being part of the TAP app is an opportunity to support our efforts for progress on a broader scale.”

“Umami Burger is proud to support sustainable initiatives,” added Sebastien Silvestri, Chief Operating Officer of Disruptive Group at sbe. “We are thrilled to work with Tap and further support their mission to reduce the amount of single-use plastics ending up in landfills.”

About Tap

Tap is the mobile app that allows you to find and access water on the go. The Refill Station network is made up of public places where you can refill your water bottle as well as partnerships with coffee shops, fast-casual restaurants, fitness studios and others who will do the same for no cost. Whether a drinking fountain or a filtered water ATM, you’ll be sure to find it on Tap. We’re expanding every day to make Tap a convenient and reliable alternative to bottled water and to help eliminate plastic pollution around the globe. Take the pledge to #DrinkDifferent.

By Rich Razgaitis, CEO and Co-Founder of FloWater

The Trump Administration announced a repeal of the bottled water ban throughout our National Park system last week. 

Amidst the current political turbulence among a series of hot button issues this decision might seem trivial, but it’s really not. Here’s why: 

It’s an illogical decision driven purely by the undue influence of companies who profit from it. 

This repeal represents a decision steeped in tacit approval of the lobbying power of big business with profit-at-any-cost-to-the-environment motivations. This represents a policy reversal in order to drive the profitability of companies that package and distribute single-use plastic water bottles. And let’s be clear, it’s no coincidence that this repeal comes weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary—whose involvement included his prior law firms’ work on behalf of one of the largest single-use plastic water bottlers in the United States.

It’s a decision that’s unduly influenced by behind-the-scenes deal making, special interests, and back-pocketing big corporations and lobbyist groups that nearly all Americans—on both the left and the right—have grown to despise. The opposition of which was one of the very building blocks that created a platform for two constituents (Sanders and Trump) ideologies that most agree represented the more extreme sides of the political spectrum. 

For those who supported Trump, this repeal of an important environmental policy – which only works to support big corporations single-use bottled water profit motives – is an explicit example of the very type of deal-making they declared, and specifically voted, that they were against. 

The basis for this decision is a significant step backwards for environmental initiatives, and an even bigger one in terms of our political leadership’s ability to separate solid policy decision making from the undue influence of powerful corporations and lobbyists that thwart forward progress of powerful policy that supports building a sustainable ecosystem. 

As an American who cares deeply about our environmental stewardship and our future ecological system that we’re responsible to pass onto our children, not only do I oppose the decision based on the environmental impact, I vehemently oppose it based on the basis of the conflict of interest represented by our new deputy interior secretary.

This represents a significant step backwards on environmental issues. 

The writer Wallace Stegner called our National Park system “The best idea we’ve ever had” and the idea of which was simple: to make sure America’s greatest National Treasures remain protected and preserved forever—and for everyone. The entire basis of our National Park System is one of conservationism. 

Yet, here are the facts about single use plastic water bottles.

  • The majority of 9 billion tons of plastic created since the 1950’s are still lingering around—though only about 20 percent of those products remain in use. 
  • Most plastic water bottles do not biodegrade; instead they photo degrade. One piece turns into two, four, eight, and so on—until the microparticulate are embedded into organic matter and poison our entire ecological and food system. 
  • American’s consume nearly 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles each year—80 percentof which end up polluting our oceans, lakes, rivers, and landfills
  • To produce these bottles it requires the use of 20 billion barrels of oil, not to mention the millions of tons of CO2 byproduct emissions via the production process itself
  • The Grand Canyon National Park alone estimates that bottled water alone represented 300 tons of garbage required for annual disposal. 
  • Nearly half of all bottled water is glorified and repurposed tap water, which comes from municipal tap water sources—at 10,000 times the cost of tap water. 
  • The plastics within bottled water can be laced with chemicals that can contain thousands of endocrine (hormone) disruptors, which can permeate into the very water you drink. Not only does each bottle pollute the environment but it also pollutes your body. 
  • A recent study of women in pregnancy showed those who drank bottled water vs. those who did not had babies that were significantly more obese at birth—this is the resultant effect of exposure to hormone-disrupting toxins that leech through plastic bottles over the short period of development in utero. 

Even though only about 30 percent of the National Parks have implemented a bottled water ban, with 300 million people visiting the National Parks each year this repeal has squandered an opportunity to educate and encourage people to do right by the environment and their own health by eliminating the use of single-use plastic water bottles. 

Plastic pollution threatens wildlife. Entanglement, ingestion, and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. 

Those supporting the repeal using arguments around the allowable sale of sugary beverages within the National Parks are missing the point and use it only as a red herring. To make forward progress with ideology, one must not use remedial arguments of “well, it’s better than…” And if there were a better argument, it would be one that substantiates a narrative around creating less governmental intervention in the free market—a general premise upon which I subscribe. Yet, there are critical and important measures where the government and policy should intervene—and this is yet one example. National Parks are funded by each of the tax-paying Americans in an effort to preserve and protect the environment—using “policy” to help extend those measures to keep the environmental toxifying effects, as well direct and indirect costs, of single-use plastic water bottles out of our National Parks is a premise rooted neither in a “right” or “left” viewpoint. Instead it is a pragmatic one towards doing right for sustainability—versus the profits of a few companies at our expense.

Instead, with this repeal it’s a considerable step backwards. One that removes sound sustainable policy designed specifically to support an ecosystem whose sole intent is to preserve some of our greatest natural resources in the United States—and we’re doing this by re-entrenching consumers access to an environmental cigarette: single-use plastic water bottles. 

Rich Razgaitis is the CEO and Co-Founder of FloWater. FloWater was founded in 2013 by a passionate team dedicated to a single mission: to put an end to single-use plastic water bottles while changing the way the world views water. 

Western Europe has some of the cleanest tap water in the world, but in last 20 years, over 50 million people have switched to single-use plastic bottled water instead. TAPP Water is on a mission to get Europeans back to drinking tap water with an ambitious waste reduction goal: 1 billion bottles by 2020.

TAPP Water co-founder Magnus Jern answered our questions and explained the challenges ahead.

When did you start thinking about tap water vs. plastic bottled water?

I moved to Barcelona, Spain, 10 years ago and one of the first things that struck me was that people didn’t drink water from the tap. Since I lived on a sixth floor without an elevator, carrying bottled water home was really inconvenient. Therefore, I got used to drinking the tap water even if it doesn’t taste that great.

Fast forwarding 7 years, the bottled water industry continued to grow and plastic waste with it. I discussed the issue with a friend of mine and we decided to do something about it.

First, we interviewed water experts in Spain and other countries across Europe and found out that the tap water quality is generally very good. The main challenge is poor taste due to a combination of chlorine, hardness, and minerals. In Barcelona for example most of the water comes from the Llobregat river, which is very hard.

How did the idea evolve into TAPP Water?

We ordered and tested more than 30 filters from the U.S., Asia, and Europe to understand what would be required to make water taste better. In parallel we did surveys, blind testing, and interviews to understand drinking water behavior, what would make people switch back to tap water, price sensitivity, and what kind of product would work best. We identified that the key to success was a product easy for anyone to install, a price point below $50 and a system to remind people when it was time to replace the filter. Based on this TAPP 1 faucet filter was born.

The customer response and feedback has been great. A lot of people say that they cannot believe the difference in taste from a filter that size. Secondly, they love that they don’t have to carry home bottles anymore and the reduction in plastic waste. So far we’ve cut plastic waste by about 200,000 bottles.

Great news! What has been the most challenging aspect?

Educating people and changing behavior is a big task. Most people don’t realize how bad the situation with plastic is or how much money they spend on bottled water. We’ve also found that although environmental consciousness is a trigger of interest, the majority will not spend money to reduce plastic waste. Therefore, the cost saving benefit is extremely important.

How will you reach your “1 billion bottles avoided” goal?

This is only the beginning of a long journey. To reach our goal and achieve our mission we need to continue improving our products, reach a lot more people and engage, inform, and educate. The great thing is that it’s a scalable model. With every filter we sell, we invest the profit in converting more people to tap water drinkers. This is how we can achieve our goal.

Thank you Magnus and TAPP Water!

Join our global Coalition.

By Elizabeth Glazner

In a world where it’s possible that a federal wilderness protection agency is allowing a multinational corporation to abscond with millions of units of its most precious resource for profit, taking a drink from your local public water fountain is practically a political act.

But that is exactly the call to action the city of Los Angeles is making to mark Tap Water Day May 5 (tomorrow), taking place during National Drinking Water Week May 1-7. The local holiday is designed to get people to stop and think, if they haven’t already, about their most precious resource: the water they drink.

NOT taking drinking water for granted is de rigueur in states like California, besieged by drought for so long, it’s adopted the unofficial anthem “Brown is the New Green,” referring, of course, to the millions of lawns dead or dying due to state-mandated water usage cutbacks. After all, the governor ordering all this sacrifice is named Brown.

It’s important, on this and every day, that the connection between the free (minus utility fees) water drawn from your tap and the water bottled in millions of bottles made of virgin plastic from which millions pay to drink is widely understood to be virtually the same water. Tell your friends, family, the people you work with, and everybody you friended on Facebook, this truth. 

You could belabor the point by also telling them that to make just one plastic water bottle takes seven times the amount of water in that bottle. That same plastic water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil from fossil fuels is the amount needed just to make it, never mind to deliver it. And there are environmental costs of the manufacturing process that are externalized, meaning passed on to you (more about costs down page). Tap water is highly regulated; bottled tap water, less so.

For at least the last decade, Nestlé Waters has steadily been decreasing the amount of spring water and increasing the amount of municipal tap water it bottles. According to Food and Water Watch, “many public water systems are inadequately funded and facing potential water shortages; allowing a corporation to bottle and sell community water can be a raw deal for the municipality.” This is especially happening in “emerging markets,” in corporate parlance—developing countries around the world where people do not have access to safe public drinking water. Where people have no choice.

The ironically-named Tap Water, of Toronto, reverts from plastic back to glass bottles, where bottled water used to be. Humans have also toted water with them in animal skins, clay jugs, vessels made of woven plant materials, metal canteens and ceramics, none of which were made for single use. For more reusables, visit LifeWithoutPlastic.com. Photo: wvs via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

It’s also happening across the U.S. where water infrastructure can be a century old and in need of repair and upgrades. Bottlers’ strategies to promote their water as healthier than tap water is especially dangerous as our public drinking water sources are disappearing. When is the last time you swept your hair back and stooped to drink from a public water fountain? If you’re under 30, maybe never; bottled water’s rise no doubt coincides with the disappearance of bubblers in public spaces over the last 30 years.

Plotting Public Water Sources

Some communities have saloons on every corner, but good luck trying to find a source of free tap water to drink. There is, however, an app for that, developed by WeTap, a nonprofit partner with the city of L.A. that seeks to improve awareness, access and use of public drinking fountains, to reduce dependence on single-use plastic, and improve public health. Use the app to map the water fountain on your running route or at the dog park, and you have done one small thing to help the movement to bring back public drinking fountains. 

And that, ultimately, will help curb single-use plastic pollution by cutting in to the profits of the big water bottling companies who have been pumping municipal groundwater out from under towns and cities for decades, diverting it from our taps to their bottling plants. 

“Approximately 155,000 public water systems in cities and municipalities throughout the U.S. treat, filter and deliver tap water to homes, businesses and institutions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at an average cost of $0.002 per gallon,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2012 numbers). Math tells us we are paying as much as a 2,000 percent markup for a gallon of bottled tap water. If you consider that most of the bottled water sold is in single-serving bottles, the cost hikes to about $7.50 per gallon, according to the American Water Works Association, making drinking water almost three times as expensive as the fuel we use to run our cars.

The existence of bottled drinking water has minimized scrutiny of our public drinking water supplies, as when we constantly worried whether our kids would come home with a pathogen from another kid’s spit in the playground’s drinking fountain. That image right there, along with mounting health claims that humans must constantly stay hydrated,  was enough to launch a bottled water industry; imagine how far the best marketing minds can extend a thing like lead poisoning of a whole city’s schoolchildren. Detroit’s residents are not just catching colds—they are now potentially disabled because of the lead poisoning scandal there that is still unfolding. 

Privatizing the Tap for Profit

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie quietly signed into law a water privatization agreement titled the “Water Infrastructure Protection Act” in February 2015. The legislation stands to directly benefit water utility companies like New Jersey American Water, that can now increase water rates without public referendum (their stock today is at a record high). They can increase rates when demand goes down because people are drinking more bottled water, or to offset costs incurred by infrastructure projects. They can increase rates whenever they want to. 

Christie has since ordered the testing of all water systems in the state’s schools for lead. Even the most remote threat of lead poisoning presents an impossible conundrum, after Michigan officials’ inept and disastrous water management. An EPA study in 1986 concluded that the tap water used by at least 38 million Americans contained dangerous levels of lead, which caused sales of bottled water to spike. So a governor today would do right to seize the political moment and declare he’s protecting our kids from the bad bad tap water, in a move that just happens to also fluff some political backers. “Remediation can be done through bottled water,” Christie declared when he signed the legislation. 

Just as there is an easy connection to be made between the water in your tap and the water in your plastic bottle, there is an easy connection to be made between passing a law giving corporations the right to take public water for their own profit, and publicly declaring that their tap water isn’t safe, thereby scaring people into buying their water in plastic bottles. 

Except, the water in those bottles is probably their tap water. 

This Tap Water Day, support public water fountains—step right up and take a drink. 

Visit here for more information.


Related:
The Irony of One Polluter’s Bottled Water Proffer | Yosemite Isn’t a Vending Machine for Big Water

Also:
Take Back the Tap | American Water Works Assoc. | Drink Tap