A Venetian sustainability expert, he is determined to change the perception of fresh water in Venice by identifying the water fountains and promoting their use. He has created the interactive Venice Tap Water map, to easily locate working fountains and in this interview encourages us to rethink the source of the water we drink while in Venice.
What is free, good for the environment, and has existed for over 100 years in Venice? The refreshing tap water that is available to everyone from any of the 186 water fountains found in the Venice and on the surrounding islands of the lagoon. Originally constructed in 1884 to accommodate the fresh drinking water that was being carried by aqueduct from the San Benedetto region of the mainland, the fountains are plentiful, (located approximately every 100 meters), and safe (the water they carry must comply with stricter regulations than bottled water). They are the sustainable antidote to the appalling abundance of plastic water bottles that flood Venice every year in an insatiable desire to quench the thirst of millions of tourists through commerce rather than common sense.
Marco Capovilla, a Venetian sustainability expert, is determined to change the perception of fresh water in Venice by identifying the water fountains and promoting their use. He has created the interactive Venice Tap Water map, to easily locate working fountains and in this interview encourages us to rethink the source of the water we drink while in Venice.
What inspired you to become involved in tourism, sustainability, and specifically the issue of drinking water?
I have memories, that I always loved nature and environmental things. Water caught my attention because I noticed the huge amount of bottled water used in Venice and did not see any action to reduce the impact. In July 2019 I created Venice Tap Water because I thought that a small action made by a huge amount of people could have a huge positive impact.
Prior to organizing Venice Tap Water what was your role in sustainable issues in Venice?
In 2014 I started the Facebook group Venezia Pulita, where I share information about environmental issues of Venice and suggestions for everyone to live with a lower impact. Simple and effective things that anyone can do without turning their daily habits upside down.
Venice Tap Water was conceived to educate people that they can drink clean, fresh, and free water in Venice by simply using any of the city’s 126 fountains (in the historic center alone) with a reusable water bottle. What is the biggest obstacle to everyone helping themselves to free water as opposed to purchasing plastic water bottles that are so detrimental to the environment?
Visitors are not informed that tap water is good and safe. I give them something very important: the choice, so once they are aware that tap water is ok, they choose what they prefer. Education is much more complex and comes after. The project targets both overnight visitors, daily trippers, and residents. Italy is the second global largest consumer per capita of bottled water and there is no reason for this.
The biggest obstacle? There is no public, national, regional, or municipal, communication campaign promoting the use of tap water, while there are plenty of commercials about bottled water.
[Read the complete article here and click here for the Italian version: Benedetta l’acqua delle fontane. Intervista con Marco Capovilla]