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A drinking fountain, also called a water fountain or bubbler, is a fountain designed to provide drinking water. It consists of a basin with either continuously running water or a tap. The drinker bends down to the stream of water and swallows water directly from the stream. Modern indoor drinking fountains may incorporate filters to remove impurities from the water and chillers to reduce its temperature. Water fountains are usually found in public places, like schools, rest areas, libraries, and grocery stores. Many jurisdictions require water fountains to be wheelchair accessible (by sticking out horizontally from the wall), and to include an additional unit of a lower height for children and short adults. The design that this replaced often had one spout atop a refrigeration unit.
The Kohler "Bubbler" was an early example of modern drinking fountains, manufactured in Wisconsin before the turn of the twentieth century.
Use of the words bubbler, water fountain, and drinking fountain vary across regional dialects of English.
The "Bubbler" was a drinking fountain developed in 1889 by the then-small Kohler Water Works (now Kohler Company) in Kohler, Wisconsin, which was already well known for its faucet production. The original Bubbler shot water one inch straight into the air, creating a bubbling texture, and the excess water ran back down over the sides of the nozzle. Several years later the Bubbler adopted an arc projection, which may allow the drinker to partake more easily and be more sanitary. At the start of the 20th century, it was discovered that the original vertical design was related to the spread of many contagious diseases.
In recent studies, it has been found that many water fountains have been contaminated with pathogens such as bacteria. Due to cases in the past where children have fallen ill due to coliform bacteria poisoning, many governments have placed strict regulations on drinking fountain designs. The vertical spout design is now illegal in most United States jurisdictions. Some governments even require water spouts to be as long as four inches to meet health standards. It is also recommended for young children to allow water fountains to run before drinking, as the water may also be contaminated with lead. This is especially common in older buildings with obsolete plumbing.
The term bubbler is a genericized trademark used in some regional dialects of the United States and in Australia. A survey of US dialects undertaken between 2002 and 2004 found the word bubbler commonly used in southern and eastern Wisconsin and in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. The phrase drinking fountain was common in the rest of the inland north and in the west, while water fountain dominated other parts of the country.
The term bubbler is sometimes used in the Portland, Oregon region where in the late 1800s former Wisconsin resident Simon Benson installed 20 fountains, which are now known in the Portland area as "Benson Bubblers".
- "Is it Safe to Drink from Public Drinking Water Fountains?". aquasana. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Fact Sheet: Drinking Water in Schools". The Green Squad. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Christensen, Sean (2 December 1994). "LINGUIST List Sum: Use of bubbler as a synonym for drinking fountain". Retrieved 13-6-2013.
- "Bubbler map". 2004. Retrieved 13-6-2013.
- Zeb Larson. "Benson Bubblers". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
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