The Battle to Save Public Drinking Fountains from Extinction
Concerns about water quality and contamination have led to the decline of public water-fountain use and the rise of bottled alternatives.
If you were asked where the closest water fountain was, would you know?
Measuring the decline in water fountain use is impossible because the data isn’t tracked.
Little Risk of Illness The Pacific Institute’s “Drinking Fountains and Public Health” report found that there is little evidence tying illness to the water quality of the fountains at the point of use, and any problems can typically be traced to poor cleaning and maintenance of pipes.
“The real problem is with the infrastructure – older piping could have lead, which was the problem in Flint, Michigan, where the water picked up contaminants in the pipes.” It boils down to regular cleaning, testing, maintenance and repair, which are not done enough.
It suggests installing more fountains to increase public access to municipal water, and helping schools, parks and others rebuild confidence in using fountains through communications outreach.
In the rural desert region of Coachella Valley, advocacy groups including the California Endowment, have funded a new version of the traditional water fountain: water refilling stations.
Refilling stations look like slightly revamped water fountains that also allow for easily refilling reusable bottles.
They are meant to increase access to safe drinking water in communities where water quality is an issue, due to arsenic or other contaminants.
Refilling stations have been installed at the California Academy for Sciences, which does not sell bottled water, as well as in some area schools, parks and San Francisco International Airport.