In urban areas, pollution of springs and wells often makes it impossible to consume water from natural sources. As a result, drinking fountains become connected to water supply networks, or are abandoned or marked as “unsafe”. Natural water fountains have been excluded from guidelines in the Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) in most EU Member States. Nevertheless, in rural areas it is possible to find aquifers with a good status, and traditional fountains being used as a water source beyond the reach of networks or as a back-up when water supply networks fail.
Galicia in Spain is rich in water resources and traditional fountains are common. Although no water purification systems are installed, the water is of good quality and the fountains are widely used. An earlier LIFE project (RURAL SUPPLIES - LIFE12 ENV/ES/000557) showed that natural drinking fountains can be affected by microbiological contamination when deficiencies occur in the protection of water catchments against organic matter (usually manure), a lack of maintenance and the absence of disinfection. This encourages potential users to drink bottled water instead. The presence of drinking fountains of good water quality along major walking routes, such as the Camino de Santiago in Galicia, could reduce consumption of bottled water and provide an inspiration to those responsible for managing other long-distance paths in Europe.
The main objective of the LIFE WATER WAY project is to develop a strategy in accordance with the Drinking Water Directive to recover traditional public drinking fountains as a micro-supply solution in areas where centralised water consumption networks have no reach.
Specific objectives of the project include:
As well as supporting the aims of the Drinking Water Directive, this project is in line with the Water Framework Directive’s (2000/60/EC) goals of promoting responsible water consumption. It has the potential to be replicated in many rural areas in Europe facing water supply problems.