Get Your Groove On, California! The Tap Water Express Has Arrived

It's hip, flashy and full of tasty municipal water. See how the Tap Water Express is making a splash across Santa Clara, California.
Get Your Groove On, California! The Tap Water Express Has Arrived
Santa Clara's Tap Water Express works as an outreach tool to demonstrate the quality of the municipality's water.

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Imagine a Saturday night street dance in Santa Clara, California.

Now imagine the same scene as a unique vehicle, wrapped in a colorful graphic, rolls up and its driver whips open a side flap revealing 14 taps from which thirsty dancers start drawing ice-cold water.

It’s the Tap Water Express, and it appears at events all over Santa Clara, quenching thirst and demonstrating the safety and quality of Santa Clara’s public water supply.

“It’s a fantastic outreach tool,” says Chris de Groot, director of water and sewer utilities. “And it’s a lot of fun. Kids gravitate toward it the way they are drawn to fire trucks and police vehicles.”

Tap Water Express was inspired by a similar vehicle called the Water Wagon, developed by Kelsey Ewart of the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada.

De Groot says he thought the unique trailer would be a good way to distribute tap water at public events, debunking the myth that bottled water is better and avoiding the litter of plastic bottles.

The Tap Water Express was designed and constructed by West-Mark of Ceres, California, based on specifications developed by de Groot and his team. Built on a Ford F-650 chassis, the Express has a gross vehicle weight of less than 26,000 pounds, which means it can be driven in California with a basic Class C license. The 500-gallon tank is small enough that a tanker endorsement is not required to operate the vehicle. The total cost was $175,000.

The vehicle is outfitted with 14 taps (seven on each side) including a pair of taps set at a lower level for ADA accessibility and children. The internal stainless steel tank and ice-packed chilling unit ensure the Express can dispense 4,000 ice-cold 16-ounce servings before having to refill.

De Groot points out it costs only $2.78 to fill the tank on the Express at Santa Clara’s current $4.16/hcf rate. “An equivalent amount of bottled water would cost $1,000 to $1,700 and must be picked up from a store,” he adds.

De Groot also saw a need to use the trailer during emergency situations. “If we have a main break or are digging somewhere where water has to be shut off, the Tap Water Express is a great way to demonstrate the quality of our water to customers. Plus, it’s great for the morale of our field crews. They get to see our residents in a very positive setting.”


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