Water 2.0: New App Shows Where to Fill Up Bottles in Vancouver

Thirsty?  A brand new mobile phone app to be released later this month will show you the location of nearly 600 water fill-up stations – from fountains to taps – across Metro Vancouver.  The free app is part of the city’s tap water campaign, intended to reduce bottled water consumption by 20 percent by the end of the year, according to a recent article in the Vancouver Sun.

Open the app, and your location is shown with a blue dot.  Nearby water sources – parks, libraries, municipal buildings, etc – are shown as green pinpoints.  A special feature allows users to add new fill-up points as they are discovered.

With the launch of the new “tap map,” it only seems right to take a moment to ponder the great, strange bottled water saga.  Remember back in the ’90s when people laughed at the idea of bottled water?  Who in his right mind would pay for something you could get practically for free, right out of the tap?  But – because it was convenient and a healthy alternative to pops and sugary drinks – bottled water caught on and in a big way.

Before long, 7-Elevens and grocery stores everywhere were stocking half-a-dozen “brands” of water, from ultra premium Evian and Fiji to generic varieties.   On hot summer days – on beaches and playing fields, in backyards and along city streets – it seemed like just about everybody had a plastic bottle in his hand.  Drinking tap water became terribly passe.   It tasted bad, was filled with impurities, maybe even little bacterias and pathogens – or so the argument went.

But then, sometime in the mid-2000s – with the globe warming and ice caps melting – people started to wonder about the environmental impact of all those plastic bottles – millions and millions of them, used just once and then thrown away or recycled.  Festivals, sports venues and sometimes even whole cities banned the sale of bottled water, insisting that people fill from the tap instead.  Slowly, surely, the tide began to turn.

And that’s pretty much where we find ourselves today.  Most people, it seems, recognize that buying bottled water is not the most environmentally friendly thing to do.  But it’s just so convenient.  Need a drink at work, at school or on the road?  Too often, the only choice is to lay out $1.50 for a plastic bottle.

The new tap map app aims to change all that.   The idea is that by showing thirsty Vancouverites where to fill up for free, many will gladly break their bottled water habit.

Makes sense to me.  What do you think?  Are you a bottle-drinker or a tap-aholic? Would you use the new app?

Remy Scalza

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0 Responses to Water 2.0: New App Shows Where to Fill Up Bottles in Vancouver

  1. Neil

    Have you heard about the free bottled water at the top of Grouse? Mind-boggling.
    http://isis.sauder.ubc.ca/media/blog/grinding-up-the-bottle-bans/

    Poor ol’ City of Vancouver’s being screwed over by those North Vancouver planet-haters. How embarrassing.

  2. marica

    would DEFINITELY use this app – love it!

  3. Its very easy to drink tap water while in your home or at your workplace, but the most discouraging aspect to the bottled water v. tap water debate is the invisible barrier to access that people perceive when trying to stay hydrated while out and about. Asking a stranger to refill your reusable bottle in a shop or restaurant can be awkward and unnerving for many people, especially when a simple alternative is readily available in the form of a disposable bottle of spring water. Social discomfort swiftly trumps individual enviro-impact. We’ve actually been developing and delivering a community-based initiative to help rectify this issue. Using our website (bluew.org) and smart phone application, we work in partnership with municipalities, local businesses and conservation groups to provide online mapped details on where to find clean, free sources across the nation to refill your reusable bottle without feeling compelled to make any additional purchases. We’re working hard to give people barrier-free access to clean, healthy tap water while out of their homes.