Peter Gleick: Water Fountain Victory — the Cavs Cave

OK, my crystal ball is often cloudy, but in my last post just two days ago, I predicted that the decision by the Cleveland Cavaliers to remove the drinking water fountains from the Quicken Loans Arena (the Q), ostensibly for health reasons, would ultimately be reversed.

Peter Gleick
Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.

Well, I was right. Fan reaction, outrage, and the perceptions that the Cavs were just trying to boost bottled water sales were all factors, but so was the fact that it is a violation of Ohio building codes to have a stadium without water fountains.

Water Number: 1 for 1000. Most building codes require that public arenas and sports stadiums have one water fountain for every 1000 seats. This is true of the Ohio building codes and it is true of the Florida building codes, where the Central Florida University stadium water-fountain fiasco occurred.

When the news broke, the Cleveland Building and Housing Department (which enforces building codes), told the Cavs to put them back. Today, the Cavs announced that they would reinstall water fountains. I won’t repeat the transparently false excuse used by the Cavs to explain this change of heart — let’s just say it was a face-saving statement and let them save face. (But you can find it in the good article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Gabriel Baird, who has been covering this story.)

Whatever the reason, there is a broader issue here: public water fountains need to be maintained, cleaned, and made even more widely available, and the trend to eliminate public water fountains needs to be fought.

But there is another opportunity here. The Cavs should put in new state-of-the-art water fountains: with chillers, filters, and modern designs. They should put them in prominent locations, not just near the bathrooms. Indeed, if they want to really persuade people that they are not just trying to boost bottled water sales, they should put them right near the concession stands, with free cups, and they might consider selling refillable stainless steel water bottles (with the Cavaliers colors and logo, of course) in their stores. And to take it a step further, perhaps they should stop selling bottled water.

Peter Gleick

Dr. Gleick’s blog posts are provided in cooperation with the SFGate. Previous posts can be found here.

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