The Disappearance of the Public Drinking Fountain
Public water fountains are a cost effective way of providing accessible drinking water to the public. In recent years, public water fountains have been utilized less and have become seemingly less abundant. Peter Gleick, water scholar and author of “Drinking Water: A History,” surmises drinking fountains are “going the way of pay phones.” The concern for the disappearance of and the hesitance towards using public water fountains stems from a call for the advancement of public health and environmentalism. Dehydration is proven to disrupt daily functions making us sluggish or unfocused. Proper hydration becomes particularly important in places of high physical activity or temperatures like parks, schools, or sports stadiums, common places for drinking fountains. Americans currently drink more bottled water than milk or beer. From a health perspective, bottled water as an additional means of hydration is positive; however, the negative environmental impact of bottled water has become extreme. Americans use 50 billion plastic water bottles each year. According to the Earth Policy Institute it takes 1.5 million barrels of oil, or enough oil to supply 100,000 cars for a year, to accommodate this use. Only one fourth of these bottles are recycled, leaving the rest to proliferate in landfills. While public water fountains contribute to healthy hydration and reduce the use of plastic bottles, the reasons behind why we have used fountains less and less are valid concerns. Many Americans avoid using public water fountains for the same reason they do not drink tap water: the safety of its content is uncertain. Unknown pollutants in public water sources drive many to choose bottled water instead. As reminded by the recent Niagara Bottled Water Recall of over 14 different bottled water brands for the possibility of E.coli contamination, there is no guarantee that bottled water is any safer than tap water. Quench bottleless water coolers address all the health, cost, and environmental concerns that both public drinking fountains and bottled water present. Quench coolers are ideal for providing hydration for large groups of people in schools, offices, gyms or other places that traditionally house public drinking fountains or where someone would carry bottled water.