Pacific Palisades, CA, United States
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  • Health, Education

  • Los Angeles, California | California | United States | Pacific Ocean

  • Children and youth, Students

  • Foundation

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Executive Summary

Two of the greatest challenges facing humanity are access to clean safe drinking water and the threat of plastic pollution to our health and environment. Specifically: (1) deteriorating infrastructure has led to fountains in disrepair in populated civic areas including schools and parks; (2) drinking water education is absent and therefore the public has lost trust in public tap water, jeopardizing the health of vulnerable populations; (3) decreased access to tap water poses serious public health risks; (4) single use plastic bottles pollute and compromise our fragile environment and our bodies; and (5) corporations have aggressively stepped in to privatize and sell water and sugary beverages to the public, wasting precious food budgets, tax dollars and resources. WeTap has a proven track record of increasing access, appreciation, use and safety of public drinking fountains through advocacy, education and our free WeTap technology.

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The Problem

WeTap is unique in our approach: working with utilities, schools, parks, universities, etc. to implement sustainable solutions to insufficient public water access in schools and parks. 1) The UNand California declared clean drinking water is a basic human right. Corporations promote and capitalize on public fear. Although tax dollars trickle in to help schools because of national and state mandates, there is no concerted effort or consensus on how to provide water to the public away from their homes and many public facilities waste funds on bottled water. In a study in Mass, 31% provided bottled water for purchase to middle school children but no free water. 2) A strong positive water education culture based in science and public health is necessary to address the acute and cumulative threats to clean drinking water from climate change, fracking and other pollutants. 3) The lack of collective support for free, accessible tap water for children has caused tragic health impacts over the past three decades, including obesity and other health threats. 4) The Ocean Conservancy reports plastic bottles are the #2 item found on beaches worldwide. Three liters of water is required to produce one liter of bottled water millions of barrels of oil for production in the US annually not including transportation. All plastic contains estrogen disruptors causing human health problems. 5) Fluoridated water prevents tooth decay and protects teeth, in children and adults. Fluoridation is one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Proposed Solution

With additional funding, WeTap can have an vital impact on the realization of well maintained drinking fountains that are accessible, trusted and accepted, for children (6 million school children in CA alone) and throughout our communities. 1)WeTap will develop legal policy and technical guides to aid service providers and the community who lack the basic information about the laws and how to increase and maintain water fountain access. We know from years of being contacted by schools and communities that instructive help is needed. 2) WeTap is supporting LA and CA as hope spots to demonstrate working public hydration systems are a viable and practical solution to proper hydration. This includes developing engaging media campaigns with emphasis on Tap Water Day in collaboration with water agencies and for the public to promote a health and safety oriented approach to public water. Our partners are the AWWA, The CA State Water Board, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, CalEPA, LAUSD, LA County Public Health, LADWP and many others. 3) We intend to expand our technology to grade individual drinking fountains in the same way restaurants are graded for health and safety. 4) A public educational curriculum and coordinated public outreach about tap water safety is necessary for both school children and the public to build a greater understanding of the health and safety of public water. We are working with the LA Trust for Children's Health to assist LAUSD's drinking fountain program and include tap water in public health and education programs.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Evelyn Wendel, Founder and Co Exec Director of WeTap, is the water expert quoted in the concluding paragraph of this opinion in The Washington Post, entitled: We don't trust drinking fountains anymore and that's bad for our health. Environmental attorney, Lisa Kaas Boyle, Exec. Director of WeTap, has successfully drafted legislation and produced the first law journal in the nation dedicated to the issue of plastic pollution. Schools are our primary focus as children's health is most important for development and lifelong habits. Tap water consumption has been tied to children's health in the following studies: Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard University School of Public Health, American Heart Association, Center for Disease Control, US EPA, Johns Hopkins Water Institute, American Dental Association, United Nations, among others... WeTap has become an expert in drinking fountain improvement needs including creating Tap Water Day for the purpose of engaging water agencies and educating the public: TWD 2016 TWD 2015 Press WeTap and our partner The LA Trust for Children's Health successfully assisted in the allocation and of 20 million dollars by LAUSD to improve public drinking fountains and we continue to assist with implementation support for LAUSD. Pedestrians and cyclists deserve water and shouldn't have to overpay for it in wasteful plastic bottles, said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of LA speaking about Tap Water Day. Water bottle filling stations allow everyone to enjoy as much water as they need to hydrate while protecting the environment.

Previous Performance

WeTap is strongly positioned as we already bring the health, environmental and educational perspectives together for community health and public water rights. Legislators and a vast array of public agencies with the ability and mandate to protect and hydrate community members, respect our leadership in this highly underserved mission. WeTap galvanizes leaders to direct attention and resources to public drinking fountains through activities such as Tap Water Day. WeTap has proven our ability to deliver on our mission with the following successes: 1. We created a strong and active coalition focused on the mission of improving drinking fountains in schools, parks and other public venues. 2. We started Tap Water Day with the CA State Resource Control Board, The LA Mayor, LADWP, American Water Works Association, LA County of Public Health, The Cal EPA and The California Endowment. Please see clips from Tap Water Day 2015 and 2016. 3. WeTap helped ensure the allocation of 20 million for a drinking water program by the second largest school district in the Nation, LAUSD. 4. The WeTap app, funded by Metabolic Studios, is already collecting data and connecting with citizens around the globe on water access points. 5. WeTap has a social media presence already reaching the public on the importance of public water access and connecting with the public in a purposeful manner. 6. WeTap has already achieved significant national recognition and we are poised to continue our deliberate and focused mission.

The Team

Team Purpose

We approach our mission from multiple vantage points including public health and safety, environmental science, urban planning, engineering and design, and legal policy. Only WeTap has the focus to unite necessary stakeholders to get fountains where they are needed in the public realm. WeTap connects water agencies, school districts, public health experts, transportation agencies, environmental and political leaders and others to focus on safe, accessible tap water. WeTap galvanizes public water agencies to install fountains with Tap Water Day, sponsored by the CA State Water Board, The Cal EPA, LA Mayor's office, The American Water Works Association, LADWP, The California Endowment and LAUSD. As stated by John Klemminger of the Cal EPA on the inaugural TWD at Balboa Park in Los Angeles, by using refillable bottles at this park's new hydration stations instead of buying single use plastic bottles, water is being conserved and trash is being reduced."

Team Structure

WeTap Founder Evelyn Wendel and Lisa Kaas Boyle, Esq. are Co Directors of WeTap, a nonprofit 501(c)3. WeTap has a board of directors and strong advisors listed on our website. Initially supported by UCLA and a grant from The Annenberg Foundation's Metabolic Studio, the free WeTap app and technology is open source and continues to expand with a collaboration with UCLA and Johns Hopkins. With years of experience and drinking fountain focus, our expertise is now being sought by public leaders and water agencies. We have managed to advance our mission by leveraging commitments of responsible, thoughtful and civic minded individuals and organizations. With support staff and funds to expand education, infrastructure, creative and technical programs, WeTap can expand and serve as a significant catalyst for the much needed tap water revolution. We have a full array of social media content which is continuing to grow internationally even though we are focused domestically on active programs. We receive global input daily from our technology, and our Instagram account is contributed to by civilians around the world who enjoy and appreciate the value of public tap water.