NYC's Water-on-the-Go Program Celebrates Summer With Independence from Bottled Water


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Just in time for days of temperatures in the upper 90s and triple digits, the City of New York has launched a program increasing the number of portable water fountains. The water fountains are being placed in several selected public places that are known to get high foot traffic over the summer: city parks, farmers markets, and special events. "The Water-on-the-Go" program is designed to increase access for New Yorkers and their pets to public water and enable them to stay hydrated while enjoying summer. The 10 portable water fountains are hooked up to and removed from fire hydrants. The fountains include faucets for drinking water or for filling water bottles, as well as for pets (do not worry germaphobes the pets faucets are in separate bowls). The fountains are being rotated around the city according to a summer schedule. Locations include: Brooklyn and Bronx Borough Halls, Times Square, Union Square Greenmarket, as well rotating weekend events such as concerts in Battery and Central Park and walks in Staten Island, Sunnyside, and the Bronx.

The traveling fountains are delivered by NYC Department of Environmental Protection staff who set up and disconnect the fountains at the start and end of each day. Cas Holloway, NYCDEP commissioner, said NYC water is "the perfect summer beverage because it has no calories, it keeps you cool, and at approximately one penny per gallon, it is 1,000 times cheaper than bottled water". The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, highlighted that NYC tap water was an affordable alternative to sugary beverages. At the kick-off event in Brooklyn, Mayor Bloomberg underscored that "canines need water too, especially during the dog days of summer". (The mayor also reminded New Yorkers not to open fire hydrants).

In 2008, Elizabeth Royte, Bottlemania author, launched a campaign to put 1,000 drinking fountains on NYC streets. In her NYT OpEd Royte remarked that "bottled water's main virtue, it seems, is convenience, especially for people at large in the city. As the editor of Beverage Digest told The Times, "It's not so easy, walking down Third Avenue on a hot day, to get a glass of tap water. But it needn't be so. Paris has its ornate cast-iron Wallace fountains (donated in the late 19th century by a wealthy philanthropist hoping to steer the homeless from alcohol toward a healthier beverage); Rome its ever-running street spigots; Portland, Ore., its delightful four-bowl Benson Bubblers."

In Tompkins Square Park a temperance fountain remains, and the Water-On-the-Go fountain in Times Square will help improve people's access to water, but it may still be difficult in Midtown to find many public sources of tap water. Here is hoping that this pilot program ramps up and changes that because Royte put it best when she said that "public fountains in the city's busiest quadrants, pristine bubblers that celebrate the virtues of our public water supply, remind us of our connection to upstate watersheds and reinforce our commitment to clean water for all".

Amen to that. Summer water fountain locations can be found at
More on Municipal Drinking Water and Fountains
Tap Water or Bottled
Water: Which is Better?

A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water

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