Tap water app aims to quench your thirst

WASHINGTON — You’ve been there, out and about on a hot day minus a drink, and searching for the nearest store to buy a cool beverage.

Well, thirst-quenching help, on a sticky summer’s day, is easier to come by than you might think, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

It’s encouraging people to use TapIt, an app and website, that shows you where you can fill up a bottle with tap water, free of charge.

TapIt refill locations can be found across D.C., Virginia and Maryland. May of them are local businesses. To use the service you can go online and find your nearest water stop or download the app. Once at your refill location, take in a reusable water bottle to fill up, either staff will do that for you, or you can access a water filling point, depending on the business. No purchase is necessary.

Here’s what the app looks when it shows you a specific location. (Courtesy COG)

The idea started in New York about nine years ago, but its founder abandoned efforts to maintain the listings. In 2014, D.C.-area officials took it over with the idea that they could serve this region.

Officials believe in the past downloading the app has been a barrier to reaching a wider audience.

“People will often download the app and not keep it because they run out of space on their phone or they go a whole season without using it,” said Heidi Bonnaffon, an environmental planner with the COG. “So, we’d like to make the website something people can bookmark and go back to whenever they need it.”

The app has been updated and includes a refined search function to help plan refills based on neighborhood, address and site. Users can share the location where they’ve topped up on social media.

Hundreds of outlets have signed up to offer the free service this year, including some museums.

“We’re trying to expand it to other venues that will make it useful for people who might not always be near a store or restaurant,” Bonnaffon said.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments hopes TapIt will also help cut down on plastic water-bottle waste.

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