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Bid to restore Bristol's drinking water fountains
By Lisa Rowell
BBC Bristol

Water fountain in Redland
The petition is calling for the fountains to be restored

A campaign has launched in Bristol to try to get the city's public drinking fountains back in working order.

An e-petition asking the city council to maintain the fountains went online this week.

It was started by Katie Alcott, the woman behind Bristol firm Frank Water, which is also running a "Turn Me On" campaign and competition.

The idea is for people to photograph disused fountains alongside a Turn Me On logo to raise awareness.

Bristol is home to several drinking fountains. Some are ornate and commemorative, others were built to be functional.

Many date back to a time when clean water was not freely available, and as that changed they fell into disrepair.

Matthew Mellor, who is co-ordinating the campaign, said: "We think there's still an need for them now in the 21st Century.

"A lot of them are in fairly decent condition, they just need to be turned back on."

The campaign is not just about preserving historic monuments, there are potential ecological benefits if people use and discard fewer plastic water bottles.

Turn me on poster next to drinking fountain
Bristol's first water fountains were paid for by donations
They were erected to publicise the new municipal water supply of 1859
A new drinking fountain was installed in Castle Park in 1993

Making water more readily available in public spaces would also encourage people to drink it.

In 2009, the Children's Food Campaign called for the reintroduction of water fountains in parks to encourage youngsters to have water rather than sugary drinks after they've had a run around.

"In the UK we have got really good tap water," said Katie Alcott.

"It's about giving people the opportunity to fill up when they're on the go. Obviously that's a much more sustainable way of having a drink when you're out and about."

Turn Me On is asking people in Bristol to join the campaign group, to make sure working water fountains are used and to raise funds for restoration of those which are no longer in use.

As we face cuts in the public sector though, can councils commit to investing in water fountain repairs?

"We've been doing our research and have found there are other ways to do this," said Matthew.

"We think we can work with other people - maybe retailers, shopping centres and businesses - and there's some grant funding available.

"I know it's tough for the council to find the money but I think there are other ways to do it."

After targeting Bristol, there are plans to launch the campaign nationally.

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17 Jul 09 |  Health



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