Make mine tap

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Despite the fact that many campaigns have been running in Britain and elsewhere demanding tap water to be made available public drinking fountains are still a rarity rather than the norm they used to be some forty or more years ago when every municipal park had several of them.

It is also still very difficult indeed to get restaurants, etc. to understand that (i) you are asking for mains water, for tap water, and (ii) that it is – under British law – illegal to charge for tap water, and still they try to do just that.

Slowly things are beginning to change and that is due to a number of not-for-profit organizations that try to get shops, pubs and restaurants to join their lists as free tap refilling stations for water bottles and also who will offer tap water at table.

We Want Tap, Give Me Tap, and Tapwater.Org are in the forefront of this campaign, with “We Want Tap” probably being the oldest in England. I reviewed the “We Want Tap” bottle several years ago by now and the bottle is still going strong.

Filling stations is something that is still very much in need and a coordinated map of all filling stations, regardless of which organizations was responsible for their being set up, should be created, I would suggest. The problem at present is that the three groups that I am aware of all have their own map only and there is no overlay with the others.

People who are looking for a free filling station therefore have to be checking at least three online services as to whether somewhere near them there is a place where they can fill up their reusable water bottle for free from the mains.

Some more publicity of the campaigns and the services also would not go amiss so that people actually are aware of the fact that there are places out there where they can fill up their water bottles with mains water for free.

In addition to that the public drinking water fountains that do still exist do not all seem to be listed.

There is one such public drinking water facility near the Mansion House in Nonsuch Park that seems to appear on no map whatsoever and there are no filling stations, it would appear, around Epsom, Surrey, so far.

The drinking water facility in Nonsuch Park is under postcode SM3 8AL and is on the East side of the Mansion House, and it is now listed, since I spoke with Michael Green, on the map of Tapwater.Org. Nice one, guys.

Restaurants and pubs around that particular area also seem totally unaware of the fact that tap water cannot be charged for and also that when someone asks for tap water the question is not “still or sparkling water” unless they happen to have a “fountain” that provides filtered tap either still or enriched with CO2.

While things, as I have said, are slowly changing, we are still a long way off the way things were in years gone by. I remember restaurants and cafes serving tap water on request and not charging for it. You'd leave them a tip mentioning that some of it was for the provision of the water, thus encouraging them to continue the service.

That was before the bottled water industry went mad and everyone began to believe only bottled water to be good and that tap was bad.

Time for a serious rethink.

© 2011