By Hasti Ghasemi Vaghar, Current Staff
The mystery of the disappearing water fountains has been solved.
After a group of water fountains on West Bend High Schools’ second floor suddenly went missing a few weeks ago, students were curious to know what had happened. They were surprised when they found empty spaces in the hallways instead of the familiar water fountains that existed near each restroom.
The district maintenance department says that the water fountains, which existed in banks of three, have been removed so that each bank can be replaced by a single unit that can also fill water bottles with cleaner water.
“I thought something happened to them, like the kids broke them,” said Stephany Fernandez, an East ninth grader. “I thought they destroyed them, or that they got complaints that the water tasted horrible.”
The old water fountains were installed sometime back in the 1990s. This, potentially, could have been the reason behind students’ complaints regarding why the water did not taste pleasant.
“Usually, (the water bottle filling units) taste better than the water from the normal ones,” East ninth grader Neveah Marchu said. “The water from the regular ones usually taste like moss.”
The old fountains were also not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, says Dave Ross, the district’s director of facilities and operations.
“The new units are what is referred to as a high-low units so they meet the requirements of the ADA,” Ross said.
The new fountains are sturdier than the old ones, which will prove vandal-resistant. The old units suffered many vandalism issues, according to Ross.
Installing the new water bottle fountains will take a while since a lot of plumbing must first take place behind the walls. The space will be stripped down and once all plumbing has been completed, the wall that will hold these new fountains will be covered with ceramic tiles so that there is an appropriate backsplash. Everything is scheduled to happen this summer if there are no supply issues.
“In hindsight, the old units should have remained in place until the end of school,” Ross said. “Looks like the maintenance department got a little overzealous.”
The plan also includes replacing the first floor fountains, once work on the second floor is complete.
In addition to installing the new-style water fountains, four of the second-floor restrooms by the world language hallway are also being remodeled.
(Photos by Hasti Ghasemi Vaghar, Current Staff.)