Free water in Waitematā

Icecream to celebrate the 100,000 trip made on Lightpath
Icecream to celebrate the 100,000 trip made on Lightpath

At the icecream celebration for the 100,000 trip on Lightpath on 30 March a rider thanked me for the drinking station the Waitematā Local Board installed nearby on the Nelson St cyclepath. He told me he enjoys using all three of the water stops we’ve put in on cycle routes (the other 2 are on the NW cycleway and on Carlton Gore Road).

This friendly feedback reminded me that one of the things I really appreciate about Local Boards is the ability to get stuff done especially projects that may be small but have the potential to have a significant impact.

Across the Waitematā area the Local Board has been quietly installing drinking stations and fountains in convenient locations. The first drinking station went in to West Lynn with legacy funding from the Western Bays Community Board (the Community Board endorsed Grey Lynn 2030’s proposal for a “village pump” triggered by the community screening of Tapped the Movie for World Water Day in 2010). The Local Board from an early stage committed budget to drinking stations in parks, reserves and the street environment.

The next step is to get all the water drinking stations mapped so they are easy to find.  I’d also like to see the initiative expanded so it becomes “Refill Auckland” modelled on Refill Bristol with the aim to make refilling your water bottle a cultural norm, with refill points on every street, via cafes, retailers, and businesses.

I’m a big fan of this project as it provides an alternative to expensive shop bought water, cuts down on plastic pollution and the need for expensive recycling and reduces exposure to unhealthy levels of BPA found in plastic drinking bottles.  By providing access to fresh filtered tap water for residents and visitors when out and about there is no reason why Waitemata couldn’t become a plastic bottle-free area.