Profile: Map your nearest Watering Hole

Hoping to counter our over-dependence on expensive, pre-packaged water, Evelyn Wendel launched WeTap, an Android app, in 2008. She started by mapping her local Los Angeles and soon extended the reach to cover all of California.

Four years later, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power praised WeTap’s work.

Now, almost the entire United States and United Kingdom are included in this GPS-based project which uses Google Maps. At the moment WeTap covers only England but hopes to expand this soon.

The app (and website) allows users to bookmark their local fountains using GPS, rate its quality and then share with friends. The app shows the working condition of each water fountain and allows users to update the constantly-expanding online database.

This makes free watering holes easier to locate, avoiding the unnecessary waste of plastic bottles.

WeTap hopes that by mapping local facilities across the US and UK, people will be more inclined to reuse one water bottle. They also hope it will encourage local governments to keep free drinking facilities functioning and sanitary.

Wendel’s inspiration came from the lack of repair and maintenance of public drinking fountains in the US. She hopes this will provide a better way to keep tabs on existing fountains as well as support to improve systems.

She also has the information necessary should private businesses offer to increase their availability or maintain existing fountains.

The Obama Administration’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 has required that public schools provide free drinking water to students, further expanding the database and purpose of WeTap.

Evelyn Wendel hopes this will allow us to “start to see drinking fountains as a convenience again. How lucky are we that we can go to a public park and have clean water to drink? Do we want that taken away?”

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