Drinking Fountains and Public Health: Improving National Water Infrastructure to Rebuild Trust and Ensure Access

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 12.41.28 PMFebruary 27, 2017, Oakland, Calif. – Today the Pacific Institute released Drinking Fountains and Public Health: Improving National Water Infrastructure to Rebuild Trust and Ensure Access, which finds limited causal evidence between illness and the use of drinking fountains. The authors note that the risk of fountain water contamination can be reduced or eliminated altogether through improved maintenance and cleaning or updating and replacing old water infrastructure.

Concerns over drinking water quality and possible disease transmission as well as widely-publicized water contamination incidents have contributed to a decline in the number of publicly available water fountains. Yet many people – including children, commuters, joggers, tourists, and the homeless – rely on drinking fountains for cheap, accessible, and safe municipal water.

To ensure the safety and continuance of this valuable public resource, the report authors recommend:

  • Establishing comprehensive monitoring and testing of all drinking fountains;
  • Developing and implementing standard protocols for water fountain maintenance, repair, and replacement;
  • Creating broad nationwide efforts to replace old water infrastructure, especially distribution and plumbing systems, with modern piping to eliminate sources of lead, copper, and microbial contamination;
  • Upgrading the type and function of older drinking fountains, for example, by installing filters;
  • Greatly increasing the number of fountains to improve access to municipal water in public places;
  • Engaging municipalities, schools, park districts, and others responsible for drinking fountains in communications efforts to help rebuild public confidence in fountains;
  • Using new tools to compile and distribute information on where to find drinking fountains and to assess and report on their condition.

These actions would help ensure that drinking fountains remain clean, safe, and accessible to the public.

Download the full report here.

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