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Why Are Drinking Water Fountains a Scarcity in the UK?

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Walking around the UK’s parks of today, you’d be lucky to find a source of public drinking water to stay hydrated. In fact, in 2010 the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) found that only 11% of the 140 parks they surveyed featured drinking water fountains. This, however, was in stark contrast of public interest in drinking fountains in public spaces.

A history into drinking fountains

While there might have been numerous public drinking sources in the 19th century, they have since dwindled. Most fountains fell in disrepair as time went on and, due to the lack of maintenance, most were removed. Officials also claim that vandalism is one of the chief reasons for the unavailability of drinking fountains, as officials select cites based on security.

Be that as it may, the lack of water sources may have led to children and even grownups turning to alternatives such as unhealthy sugary drinks or bottled water.

The Impact of Fewer Drinking Water Fountains on Children

Although this is not an established fact, NUT general secretary Christine Blower attributed the lack of public drinking fountains as one of the reasons children were turning to expensive sugary drinks. The very same beverages have been attributed to health issues such as obesity and diabetes. What’s more, a recent report by the government has even asked parents to stop serving children these cold drinks and, alternatively, give them water.

Where grownups come into the picture                                                                                                                              

Park_stainlessIn recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the consumption of consumer bottled water. Mintel, a market analyst group, reports that the industry will be worth over 2 billion dollars a year by 2016. Even though the increase in demand is attributed to health awareness, it could be argued that the lack of publicly available drinking spouts could also drive the demand for bottled products.

Conservationists are, however, concerned about the consumption of bottled water, claiming that it’s environmental impact is unsustainable.

Adding up the costs of Spring Bottled Water

According to a report by the Pacific Institute, approximately three times the volume of water is used to produce one bottle of water before it’s even filled up. This is further exacerbated by the fact that 17 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the plastic. Thereafter, you have to take into account the amount of CO2 it takes to transport the spring water from its source to the supermarkets, where the product is purchased, consumed and discarded in non-recycling bins.

Drinking fountains in other countries

In the United States there are approximately 155 000 public water systems that dispense water to the general public for an average cost of 0.2cents a litre.  A survey published in the NCBI shows there is adequate access to public drinking fountains, with 54% of adults who frequent parks saying they have used the facilities. Another study by the University Of Illinois (UIC) shows that a significant 89.4% of children in schools also have access to public drinking water.

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The need for water in public areas can’t be reiterated enough. The cost and health benefits far outweigh the cost of installing, maintaining and repairing drinking fountains across the UK. As more research shows the children and adults must drink more water, more needs to be done ensure that every time you walk in a public area you’re not too far away from a drinking spout to quench your thirst.

Drinking Water Fountains