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August 31st, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Jeld-Wen's Water

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

Was Jeld-Wen Field designed with only two water fountains in order to boost sales of bottled water? The line for the fountains is agonizingly long, and it’s slow because everyone is filling up bottles. (The sinks won’t run long enough to fill a bottle.) Is this even legal?

—Tim

Tsk, tsk, such a suspicious mind. I’m sure the folks at Jeld-Wen Field have no idea what you could possibly be thinking. Oh, look, here comes one now:

“The answer to the question is, no, the number of drinking fountains at the stadium is not kept artificially low,” says Timbers spokesman Chris Metz. “Lines at the drinking fountains, if any, are typically quite reasonable, too.”

See, Tim? There’s no place for profiteering in the charity-driven world of sports concessions. Why, I’ll bet those selfless operators would gladly take a loss on every $3.75 bottle of water sold, just to see the smile on your heatstroke-addled face.

Of course, there will always be a few gimlet-eyed skeptics to rain on the parade. “No one has ever admitted that [fewer drinking fountains] is to sell more bottled water,” says the Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick, an anti-bottled-water activist who’s taken on several sports facilities over this issue. “But everyone believes it is.”

Many state building codes require a water fountain for every 1,000 seats. In Oregon, though, the law requires only one fountain per floor: Whatever you may think of the stadium’s motives, legally it’s covered. 

And in fairness to the Timbers, maybe drinking fountains are getting rarer because we don’t demand them—even though clean water out of the tap is one of the few First World privileges we still enjoy. I say live it up: There’ll be plenty of time for drinking bottled water when we’re all huddling in the zombie shelters.

 
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