An investigation into the school’s water fountains


Naomi Yaeger, Staff Writer

Every day, students and faculty use the water fountains placed around the school. Despite their uniform appearance, each water fountain has different characteristics, from their water source to their operation, both of which affect its water pressure.

All of the Middle and Upper Division fountains are electric, Director of Facilities Management Gordon Jensen said. “When you press the button, it opens up a solenoid valve, which is an electronic valve, and that lets the water through.”

The campus buildings were built over many years and are relatively distant from one another. As a result, each one has its own water supply, Jensen said. “Lutnick has the brand new water line that we brought in off of Tibbett Avenue,” he said. Meanwhile, Tillinghast, Fisher, and Rose Hall get their water from pipes that come in from lower 246th Street; Pforzheimer Hall and Spence Cottage get their water from upper 246th street.

These different water sources are a contributing factor to differences in the fountains water pressure, Jensen said. “City pressure could be different between those lines.”

To keep the water clean, each fountain has a filter that catches sediment in the water, Facilities Supervisor Dan DeCecco said. “We check them at least once a month,” he said. The newer fountains have lights to indicate the health of their filters: green for a good filter, yellow for an aging filter, and red for filters that have reached their capacity.

When a filter is older it continues to clean the water, but at a much slower speed, Jensen said. “As it clogs, you’ll get less pressure,” he said. “There will be some right away, but then it’ll slow down, because it takes the water a while to get through the filter.”

Whenever Tamiah Williams (11) forgets her water bottle, she uses the fountains, she said. “The part of the fountain that fills up the water bottles and the filters are usually fine, however, the part that gives a single drink usually only has a small stream,” Williams said. Students often have to come very close to the fountain to get a substantial drink, she said. To avoid any potential sanitary concerns, Williams uses the paper cups in the cafeteria to drink from the upper part of the fountains, she said.

Another reason behind weaker pressure in some fountains is that none of the buildings have water pumps because they only have four or less floors, Jensen said. As a result, the higher the floor, the lower the pressure. “You lose one psi for approximately every two feet you go up,” he said. “The first floor, and even the basement, would be at a higher pressure than the higher floors because they are at street level.”

Dylan Montbach (10) has noticed this difference, he said. “The fountains that are closer to the ground, like the one on the pool deck, are much stronger,” he said. “On the third floor [of Tillinghast], there’s almost no water that comes out of the water fountains..”

The weak stream provided by the fountains can lead to embarrassing situations, Gisella Fischberg (11) said. “I went to go drink from the water fountain, and the water came out, so I put my mouth over the water. But then, the water stream kept shrinking!” she said. “I didn’t want to put my mouth on the thing. It was so embarrassing, someone was waiting behind me and saw it all.”