As the summer heats up, it’s easy to become a little parched as you’re out and about in the city and public water fountains can really save the day. Portland, Oregon sure thinks so. Seemingly everywhere in the city are one and four-spouted drinking fountains offering refreshment in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
In 1912, businessman, philanthropist, and teetotaler Simon Benson funded the installation of the first twenty fountains in Portland. In his mind, the fountains would offer thirsty Stumptown lumber workers an alternative from the bar for midday refreshment. Today, there are 40 fountains throughout the city.
These Benson Bubblers are a source of pride in Portland and more than once on my last visit to the city, strangers approached me to demonstrate the proper use of the fountains (it seems there are a few styles). The preferred method is demonstrated in the photo above.
With so many perpetually-bubbling fountains in the city, one must wonder as to the amount of water being used. While the fountains originally ran around the clock, today they operate from 5:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. and have been equipped with flow-restriction devices to limit water usage. The large four-bowl models use about four gallons of water a minute. All 40 “Benson Bubblers use less than one tenth of one percent of Portland’s daily water demand.”
While Louisville has a few drinking fountains around town, is there room for increased public-hydration in the city’s public domain?