Whatever happened to …

… public water drinking fountains?

This topic was inspired by a walk in the park. Actually, the King’s Navy Yard with Jaimie and my wife on a Friday afternoon. Later that afternoon, the whole downtown will be shut down because of the Uncommon Festival so this would be our last park stroll until next week.

As we were walking along looking at the things that are being set up, we noticed a portable water bottle refill station. At the same time, we both looked at each other and realized that there was no public water fountain in the park. We started talking about the various parks in town and we couldn’t name one that had a fountain in it.

Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash

Of course, that got us thinking of the good old days.

In our home town, there were a number of public drinking fountains. They were just there for anyone who needed a drink to bend over and press the button and voilà. There was one on one of the main streets, another over by the pool, and a bunch at the back of the public school. Water was just available when you need it.

We recognize that there are still drinking fountains but they’re typically inside buildings like schools so they’re not generally available for the public.

For a Sunday, are you thirsty?

  • If you’re out for a walk, can you think of a publicly available water fountain?
  • Of course, you could always walk into a convenience store and plop down $1.50 for a plastic bottle. (Personally, I try to avoid plastic containers and I just refuse to pay that much for water …)
  • Do you remember public water fountains from your youth? Where were they located?
  • I think we all are more appreciative of the need to stay hydrated these days and many people will fill up a bottle at home and take it with you. That works, but how many times are you caught “in demand” of a drink?
  • Are fountains just too expensive to maintain? The teachers among us know that they often get confused with garbage containers and places to stick your gum

I’d be most interested in your thoughts about this.

Please share them in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. The teacher in me has seen what’s gone into those fountains, and even with ones around, I’d be reluctant to use them. At school, the regular fountains have largely been replaced with hydration stations. You can still drink from them like a fountain, but they’re largely used for refilling water bottles. Almost all students and staff come with their own. Different times, I guess, but thanks Doug for the walk down memory lane!



  2. We’re the same as Aviva – stations for filling your water bottle. I am working really hard to try and persuade my Grade 7’s to not bring single-use water bottles – there’s a place to fill your bottle! And yeah, I didn’t love the state of the drinking fountains in the schools I attended or have worked in….(ewwww!)


  3. And yes, we usually take our own bottles with us when we are walking or biking. Our favourite park is largely wild, and definitely doesn’t have a drinking fountain.


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  6. I remember water stations in parks growing up. There were some near the beach as I recall. That was in the city though and I don’t remember seeing them in the semi-rural area were I live these days. At school we have some older water stations (they call them bubblers here in New Hampshire) and some newer bottle filling stations.

    Seems like most people carry water bottles all the time these days. It is not a habit I ever got into though I have a collapsable one I keep in my backpack. I have been using it at conferences where it seems like I always need some water.


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