Cities and Individuals Tap into the Tap Water Tide

Mineral water being poured from a bottle into ...

Mineral water being poured from a bottle into a glass.

Washington, D.C. water outreach specialists are seeking a new mascot: Wendell (or Wendy) the Water Drop. It was a job tip blanketed across the web by blogs and news media this week, culminating in a follow-up lifestyle feature, which highlights the Water Drop mascot audition process, in The Washington Post.

While reading how participants danced to “Pour it Up” by Rihanna to audition for this odd mascot gig for D.C. Water (the capital’s water and sewer authority), I kept hoping the article would tell me exactly why Washington, D.C. needs a water mascot. Is it a good use of funds? Do other cities have water mascots?

The article didn’t quite get there (too gritty for the lifestyle section, I guess), but a blog post about Presidential Inauguration planning helped jog my memory.

As reported by a Post Local blog, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced months before the Presidential Inauguration that he intended to import Saratoga Springs bottled water from his home state as chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. This prompted D.C. Water to write Schumer asking him to consider D.C. tap water instead. According to the Post Local, the move was the, “the latest in an ongoing campaign to encourage tap water consumption by a utility endeavoring to repair its water’s sullied reputation.”

Memory jogged: when I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004, I do recall a warning by my university (or was it a roommate?) not to drink out of the tap. See, Washington, D.C.’s water was unsafe to drink due to a treatment change that let lead into our homes, and water glasses. About a year later, I remember receiving a notice that the water was cleared and safe to drink again. But I still didn’t drink it.

When I did live in Washington, D.C. and didn’t drink its tap water, I’m not sure Wendy or Wendell the Water Drop would have helped.

Mascots and outreach campaigns for tap water aren’t specific to Washington D.C.’s sullied tap water reputation. More bottled water drinkers means more waste and higher taxes, so cities from Tokyo to London and San Francisco have launched their own campaigns, according to

Less Waters the Low-Flow Toilet

Less Waters the Low-Flow Toilet

And Washington, D.C. is not alone in using a mascot to repair its reputation: Tucson, Ariz. uses Pete the Beak (a duck/man), and, in a move I consider pure brilliance, Savannah, Ga. sponsors “Less Waters”, an anthropomorphic, walking, talking low-flow toilet.

While mascots might help us all turn to tap over bottled the next time our mouths feel parched, here are a few ideas about how you can help sway the tap water tide now:

1. Get up. Go to your tap. Fill your glass. Drink.
2. Purchase a BPA-free, water bottle in support of tap water.
3. Educate yourself using the Environmental Protection Agency’s FAQ on ground water & drinking water.
4. Shake off the tap water stigma, even if you got a letter from the city a decade ago that has since cleared.

Can you add to this list of ways to personally promote tap water? Use the comments section below.

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A California-native, Jasmine Touton - who is also a Project Specialist at Campaign Consultation Inc. - spent much of her time growing up outdoors and under water. She's passionate about finding and lifting up innovative ways we can all work to preserve and protect the great outdoors for future generations. Read more.