Time for a public fountain revival
Nancy Stoner, the Acting Assistant Administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, recently spoke out about the disappearance of outdoor fountains in public places over the last several decades. She noted
that when we lose fountains, we also lose “public knowledge about the importance of investing in drinking water systems, which provide dependable, affordable and clean water.”
Drinking from a fountain is cheaper than buying bottled water; fountains take water-delivery trucks off streets, so there’s less traffic and fewer diesel emissions; they minimize the waste created by empty bottles; tap water is healthier than other packaged beverages; and fountains remind us of the fundamental connection between the natural world and our own well-being.
There are some who are afraid of getting sick from fountains, but microbiologists say the odds of contracting a disease this way are extremely low. Low levels of contaminants in the water should also not put people off using fountains; the cities where the “fountain renaissance” is taking off have the best tap water as they have good staffing, enforce anti-pollution laws and have excellent maintenance systems in place.
There may still be a way to go in improving maintenance standards of public fountains, and the debate about any possibility of harm from water contaminants continues. But Drinking Water Fountains ascertains that public water fountains are an invaluable asset to communities, offering a free and accessible water source to all that is vital for maintaining public well-being, and we fully support this developing renaissance in fountain usage.