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Casa Verde: Bring Back the Drinking Fountain

Have you noticed that water fountains are few and far between, at least in the United States? I feel as if when I was a little kid, they were a lot more accessible in public places. My library even had one, which is more than I can say for my neighborhood library now. What's ironic about this fact is that the first water fountains were installed in Berkeley, where I live!


Luther Haws, a part-time plumber and sanitary inspector for the city of Berkeley, was inspired to invent the drinking fountain in 1906, when he noticed school children drinking out of the same tin cup. This germ swapping seemed to him to pose a potential health hazard. So, Haws set to work building the first modern drinking fountain out of spare plumbing parts, the ball from a brass bedstead, and a self-closing rabbit ear valve.

Now that everyone's starting to realize that plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment, I propose a return to the use of water fountains. They're sanitary, convenient, and in the case of many (including this one), occasionally beautiful works of art. Not only will it cut down on plastic use, it'll also help to do something equally important: foster a sense of community in your neighborhood or city.

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