Sparkling-water fountains may break the bottled habit

The public spouts started off as an experiment in parts of the world, but have grown more popular. When will they come to the US?

By Kim Peterson Sep 12, 2013 10:53AM
A woman watches carbonated water flow into a cup from a sparkling-water fountain called 'La Petillante.' (© PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)Traditional water fountains sit unused in many parts of the world, scorned by a public that now prefers the same stuff in bottles.

In an effort to get people off of their bottled-water habit, some countries have begun installing sparkling-water fountains. The devices infuse cooled tap water with carbon dioxide, and cities hope they will reduce plastic waste and renew interest in local water sources.

The French are one of the world's biggest consumers of bottled water, reportedly at about 40 gallons per person per year. So the publicly funded group that manages the city's water tried a sparkling-water fountain in 2010.

It worked so well that two more have debuted, and three more are planned for next year, Slate reports.

The problem with this kind of fountain, though, is that you need a container to drink the water from. So Paris installed a vending machine that sells reusable water flasks for 3 euros.

Italy has hundreds of these machines, and the city of Perth in Western Australia approved a three-month trial with its first one, Time Magazine reports. Australia charges people for the water, and uses solar power to make it cold.

Sounds like a great idea for the U.S. to test. Are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg?

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Sep 12, 2013 8:34PM
Or you idiots could just drink the water that comes out of your faucet. I have a filter on my drinking water so I drink 2 gallons of water a day for pennies. I have several reusable water bottles so I am not one of morons tossing 10-15 plastic bottles a day in the trash. If I do buy a bottle of water, I buy the cheapest bottle I can & the I recycle the empty bottle.
Sep 13, 2013 7:36PM

Does no one else wonder why French people are the largest percentage market of bottled water? Clearly it's successful there because their regular municipal water supplies are not safe/bad tasting/unhygienic. Granted it's been years and years since I've been to France, but I doubt it has improved very much over the years, considering they are even more broke than they used to be then. It was always laughable to me that Perrier drove the original "gourmet water" market in the beginning, especially as it was later proved that their original spring-fed source was contaminated with benzene.

Frankly I think that in most U.S. municipalities this would NOT do well, simply because the vast majority of U.S. cities actually provide citizens with relatively safe drinking water. We aren't drinking bottled water because we have to, we're drinking it for convenience and taste. So those who are buying bottled water here in the states will continue to do so, not suddenly have an attack of eco-conscienceness and start using refillables.

The "unused" water fountains in public parks, etc. are usually not used because there is no maintenance and cleaning being done to maintain them, therefore making them unpalatable and unhygienic. If a municipality is trying to keep people interested in drinking from city water fountains, then instead of investing taxpayer dollars on fancy new water vending options, they could invest far fewer dollars and keep the ones they have already more decently maintained. And perhaps even employ a few people along the way.

Sep 13, 2013 2:09PM

People who buy bottled water are fooled into believing that it's better than tap water.  A fool and his money are soon parted.   

If you want clean water, run it through a filter.

Sep 15, 2013 2:26PM
a cheap carbon type filter will clean up your tap water just fine   ...  but i think the Point is  ...  saving plastic water bottles from landfills  ...  just get a re-useable bottle and put what ever you want in it .. !!
Sep 15, 2013 5:27AM
There are a lot of fools who drink tap water with all the chemicals added to it.  A large percentage of cities have water that is so bad you just as well drink out of a river.  Toilet tanks in these cities are yellow or brown with stains from the water does the same to individuals as tanks.  But yet we have morons condemning bottle water drinkers.  
Sep 13, 2013 5:31PM
My toilet bowl is full of the stuff but I don't drink it.  It's the same water that comes out ot the tap.  Do you folks drink out of the toilet if it's convenient since it's the same water?  If that stuff that you drink out of the tap is so clean and pure why all the processing and added carcinogens(chlorine and others) to make it safe to drink?
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