Need a water refill? Look for the big, blue W

blueteaser2If you notice a large, blue ‘W’ in the window of your local grocery store or library, feel free to drop in and fill up your water bottle.

The sign means that businesses and organizations in the community are participating in a national tap refilling initiative called Blue W. Anyone can fill up their refillable water bottles with municipal tap water at these premises free. The goals of the program are to help people make healthy choices for hydration, avoid single-use plastic and to appreciate the hard work of municipal water providers, says Evan Pilkington, Managing Director of Blue W.

Good for your health

As part of the first formal Blue W project in Manitoba, nine (9) municipal governments within the Southern Health-Santé Sud region are partnering with Public Health-Healthy Living to bring the Blue W program to the area. The first five to sign up are the cities of Morden,  Winkler and Portage la Prairie, the Town of Niverville as well as the RM of Westlake ‒ Gladstone. “We commend these municipalities as early adopters of the project,” says Healthy Living Facilitator Dianna Meseyton-Neufeld, who will be working to the remaining communities onboard over the next few weeks. “We want people to start recognizing what the Blue W is and what it means. We hope that it will become a habit that people take their refillable water bottles wherever they go because they see water as a healthier beverage choice. By providing more and easier access to water, the chances are they will drink more of it.”

Besides the health benefits of drinking water, the Blue W program puts participating communities and their businesses on a national map and allows them to positively promote the quality of   municipal water supplies. “Our municipal partners have great water resources and we want them to be recognized for the good services that they offer,” says Meseyton-Neufeld.

All of the 26,000 (and growing) Blue W filling sites across Canada are shown on a map at the website, so anyone with a phone or other mobile device can easily find them.

Good for the environment

There are also environmental benefits of decreasing the amount of plastic ending up in landfills, something that has caused one-use plastic bottles to be banned in other countries.

“That won’t happen overnight here, but we do anticipate it will be coming,” says Meseyton-Neufeld. “Communities participating in Blue W are being proactive by having alternative water sources in place and ensuring that people understand they are welcome to use them.”

Although the pilot Blue W project currently involves only nine municipal governments, the goal is to expand it to other communities in the future.”If Blue W is something you want in your community, we invite those communities to contact us and we’ll try and accommodate them,” says Meseyton-Neufeld.

Find a Blue W water refilling site near you.

Wherever you are, go to the ( from your computer, phone or tablet to find one of more than 26,000 Blue W tap water refilling sites close by.