A call for tenders at a South African municipality led to the invention of a water control dispenser. The municipality stated it would supply a galvanized steel cover to which a water control dispensing mechanism was to be mounted. Operation would be by turning an external hand-wheel, which in turn had to be protected by a metal surround.
The invention involved the principle of operating an electrical water solenoid by an external magnet, followed by the development of an oil-filled viscous-drive with a return bias to align the polarity of the magnetic field to open and close the valve. A prototype was presented to the municipality, and after it and several other systems had been trialled, an order was placed for ten units to be field tested over a three-month period. The trials were successful, and a joint venture business trading as WaterWidget has resulted in the WaterWidget free water dispenser being made available countrywide. A provisional patent has been registered in South Africa and worldwide patent protection has been registered.
The mechanism is easily adaptable so that it can be retrofitted to any existing vulnerable electronic prepaid water vending standpipe. Other than the protective steel housing there is little commercial value in the mechanism, which is made mainly of glass-filled nylon.