Walking around New York City, going everywhere on foot, you tend to get thirsty. If you’re like me, you carry your stainless steel water bottle all over the place for just these occasions. But sometimes you forget it. Or sometimes you don’t want to carry something heavy with you everywhere. On these occasions you may end up spending $2, give or take, to get some cold water (or, faced with options, you end up with a soda). Then you have a plastic bottle that was used once and immediately thrown away, possibly to be recycled.

Everyone needs water. I began thinking about water fountains after noticing a woman several days in a row at Riverside Park near a remote water fountain. She appeared to be homeless, and I wondered how do homeless people survive? Do they have a strong working knowledge of the water fountains in the city? You can go without food for awhile, but not water.

These water fountains are a public good and I believe, generally throughout the states, there used to be a lot more of them. If you work in the city you’re likely paying taxes there, so some (probably small) fraction of your money is going towards maintaining the fountains. Why not drink from them instead of paying again for water? Currently it’s probably just children, runners, the homeless and some tourists making use of the water fountains. If we all knew where they were we could make better use of them, and maybe demand would lead to more of them.

I decided to create an app so you could look at your map and immediately know where the closest “free” water was. But I worked full-time and have no knowledge on creating apps, so my idea never went anywhere. Then I heard about WeTap (also mentioned on myplasticfreelife). They’ve made their app global, which is a great idea (though do drinking fountains even exist in Japan? Seriously, let me know if you know where some are). However they don’t seem to have gotten any further on the iphone app since I heard about it half a year ago. Online they do have many marked in New York, but they’re mostly west and north, with a lot near Inwood. I’m sure more do exist in touristy areas.

WeTap is more global than what I’d imagined, but it’s also less detailed than my idea was. I wanted it to be interactive, as everything is more fun that way, but I also knew there was no way I could find every water fountain in New York on my own. I thought there should be a place to rate it and comment: does the water come out at a good pace and level, or does it shoot up in the air? Is it cold or metallic? This article is more of what I had imagined.

Maybe by the time I move back to New York there will be a great iphone app that combines these two ideas. I guess if not I’ll have to figure out how to make one.