80% of Seattle park drinking fountains don’t work, heatwave ahead

SEATTLE — Record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures are in the forecast but only 20% of Seattle city park water fountains are in working order, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation.

It’s a rarity for Seattle -- record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures forecast three days in a row.

The impending heatwave has prompted cities to open cooling centers, and counties to provide resources and safety tips to beat the heat.

The number one piece of advice? Hydration.

Public drinking fountains can be found scattered throughout Seattle parks. However, right now, finding one that has water may be a tall order.

According to Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), a whopping 80% of city park drinking fountains don’t work.

A spokesperson with SPR told KIRO-7 most of the fountains have been off since the 2019 winter season.

In 2020, SPR was in the process of turning them back on for spring and summertime use when pandemic-related safety measures prompted them to keep the fountains off indefinitely (and turn off the ones they had already turned back on).

Fast forward to this month, June of 2021, SPR said they had begun turning the fountains back on following guidance from Seattle King County Public Health.

“Staff are seeing that since drinking fountains have been off for quite some time, they are needing more work (replacing parts or fixing damage) to get turned back on,” the spokesperson said.

According to SPR, the goal is to have all the functioning fountains turned on by mid-July. So far, just 20% of the fountains have been turned back on.

“We wish we could do this more quickly, but this is the busiest season for our plumbing teams as they prepare to get (and keep) pools, spray parks, and wading pools running,” the spokesperson continued.

If you are looking for a functioning fountain, the downtown area is a good place to start.

According to SPR, the department prioritized the downtown fountains because they have fewer brick-and-mortar bathroom locations in the area (which also provide running water for water bottle refills).

David Cuerpo, a spokesperson with the Seattle Fire Department, echoed the importance of hydration but said there are other things people can do to protect themselves like staying in the shade, or utilizing public cool-off spaces.

A list of libraries, wading pools, spray parks, lifeguarded beaches and outdoor pools can be found here.

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