The City of Santa Clara, Calif., recently unveiled a new custom-built vehicle named the Tap Water Express. The purpose-built vehicle is used as a public outreach tool and for events when water needs to be shut off, according to the city.
The city took delivery of the Tap Water Express on July 12. Santa Clara’s Director of Water and Sewer Utilities Chris de Groot was inspired to after seeing a water distribution trailer in Canada, and fleet staff worked on the vehicle design. The cost for engineering drawings and the complete truck was $174,667.
As a public outreach tool, the Tap Water Express is used at public events, providing ice cold tap water to fill water bottles or cups. The cargo area truck has storage for promotional materials, tables, chairs, a canopy, and more than 4,000 collapsible water bottles.
In the event of a disaster, the Tap Water Express is fully self-contained and was designed to be set up within 5 minutes of arriving on site. Santa Clara has never had to issue a boil water or do not drink order in its 120-year history. However, water occasionally must be shut off to neighborhoods during repairs. Most utilities faced with the need to distribute water in a disaster, water quality event, or during repairs resort to distributing bottled water. This perpetuates the myth that bottled water is superior to, safer than, or better than tap water, and the truck allows the city to break away from that practice, the city stated. Santa Clara plans to offer the use of the Tap Water Express as part of mutual aid offered to other cities in the event of disasters.
The Tap Water Express is wrapped with water-related graphics and the tank, piping, and the tap bays are constructed of stainless steel. The internal 500 gallon stainless steel tank and ice-packed chilling unit ensures that the Tap Water Express can dispense 4,000 ice-cold 16-ounce servings before having to refill. The Tap Water Express is outfitted with 14 taps (7 on each side) including 2 taps set at a lower level to accommodate handicapped customers and children.
The roof top solar array charges the on-board batteries which power LED lights, including a strip of blue LED lights above the taps, to enable the Tap Water Express to be used at night as well as during the day. The batteries can also be charged by plugging the Tap Water Express into a standard 110-volt outlet. Any spillage in the tap bays goes to a waste storage tank under the vehicle. The electric awnings on each side of the vehicle can be deployed to provide shelter from the sun or rain.