The Great Water Fountain Survey

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What we're looking for

The weather is getting ever hotter, making liquid refreshment a vital between-class task. For those who seek a splash-free drinking experience or a stream strong enough to fill their Nalgene to the brim, however, the buildings of Columbia can be a challenging and sometimes alarming place. For this reason, the brave Water Wardens of Bwog have ventured out into campus to do a building by building breakdown of the best (and worst) water fountains. The results, listed alphabetically by building, are below.


After descending into the library, it can be challenging to find a drink. While Avery library has an awkwardly placed set of bathrooms along the back of the reading room, it lacks accessible drinking fountains.

  • Bwog’s Pick: By the bathrooms in the Wallach Study Center for Art & Architecture
  1. Temperature:  Pleasant, not overwhelmingly cool or too hot.
  2. Cleanliness: Very clean–the main positive thing about this fountain is that it’s in a low traffic area.
  3. Accessibility: Difficult to get to and too low to drink out of comfortably.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Weak and little more than a trickle, which makes water bottle filling impractical.
  5. Miscellaneous: Positioned by a custodial closet, so it is sometimes obstructed and there are often bath room/custodial equipment noises in the area.

Barnard Hall:

The fountains are generally mediocre. Location varies throughout the building; the fourth floor fountain is well situated in the middle of the hall, the third and second floor fountains are by the stairs, and the first floor fountain is adjacent to the elevator.

  • Bwog’s Pick: The fourth floor fountain
  1. Temperature: On the colder side, but not condensation-on-your-water-bottle cold.
  2. Cleanliness: Clean, but sometimes spattered with lipstick smudges from miscellaneous visitors.
  3. Accessibility: Great location on the hallway if you’re all the way up there, and since most of the classes on that floor are small seminars and finish at different times, there’s almost never a line unless there’s an event finishing in the James Room.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Negligible splashiness as the stream is consistent and the drainage is strong.
  • The Worst: The third floor fountain
  1. Temperature: Warm by 10AM due to overuse.
  2. Cleanliness: Pretty clean, but mostly because there’s not much to keep clean…
  3. Accessibility: Close to the stairs, but disastrous in its construction; sandwiched in an awkward alcove, and somewhat of a vintage fountain so that it can barely hold up to the traffic from the large lecture hall that is 304 Barnard Hall and the larger studio that is 305 Barnard Hall.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Irrelevant, because the existence of a stream is dubious.


The Butler fountains really span the spectrum, with some of the worst being dribllier and warmer than any others at Columbia, and some of the best topping even those of Joe.

  • Bwog’s Pick: Sixth floor on the  west side, near the elevators
  1. Temperature: Cold and crisp, but not tooth-ache cold. The temperature you’d want for a power slurp in between finishing a rough draft of an essay, and going back to edit.
  2. Overall Stream Quality: Strong and always consistently shaped; like the Arc de Triomphe.
  3. Cleanliness: Clean ’cause barely anyone goes there.
  4. Accessibility: You can elevate right to it.
  5. Miscellaneous: Sometimes there are stressed out people talking on their phones right next to you as you’re trying to grab a drink, since it’s right between the quiet room and the elevator. Bring headphones, just in case.

The Diana Center:

Above ground, the fountains are each situated all the way down the hallway, toward the North and next to Milbank. They’re worth the walk, though, because they’re super new and improved, complete with cold water, a hearty spout and a full station for water-bottle filling, labeled with a nice “Filtrine!” sticker and comfortably accommodating a one-liter bottle.

  • Bwog’s Pick: The fountain on LL1
  1. Temperature: Condensation-inducing on your mouth and your water bottle.
  2. Cleanliness: On-par with the other fountains and most of the building.
  3. Accessibility: Prime location; it is perfectly situated at the entrance to the building from the Tunnels, and next to two large lecture halls.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: A+, considering that the stream is consistently so high that a water-bottle filler spout isn’t needed to comfortably fill the bottle. And, there are two, so you won’t feel too guilty taking up the fountain.
  • Hidden Gem: The first floor fountain
  1. Temperature: Perfect, due to extremely limited usage.
  2. Cleanliness: Still has that “new building” kind of feeling—get it while it lasts!
  3. Accessibility: Not busy because nobody knows it’s there; situated all the way behind the large, convex structure that is the wall of the first-floor. One probably only finds it en route to find a bathroom. It’s probably quicker to go down to LL1.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Excellent.


Water fountains are located on every floor, and are generally of middling quality.

  • Bwog’s Pick: 3rd floor
  1. Temperature:  Cold but not so icy that you can’t drink it quickly.
  2. Cleanliness: Good, only the occasional speck.
  3. Accessibility: Right there if you’re taking the stairs on the west side of the building.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Mid-height, not as forceful as would hope but does the job.
  5. Miscellaneous: Pairs well with LitHum.

Stream quality is important!


The fountains in Lerner are pretty typical. They’re all reasonably clean and accessible, but there is one fountain somewhat out of the way that is a fantastic find.

  • Bwog’s Pick: Right across the wall from the Citibank ATM next to the bathrooms
  1. Temperature: Perfect…it’s cold but falls just short of hurting your teeth.
  2. Cleanliness: Spotless.
  3. Accessibility: ATM adjacent.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: The high-pressured stream ascends beautifully to your face so you do not have to bend down too far.


Mudd is industrial and sanitary. The building’s fountain system suffers from an overall crippling lack of water pressure, which makes sipping from many of the fountains nearly impossible. However, once you reach a well-pressured fountain (many require a trek to a higher floor), the cleanliness of the environment and standard design bring you a cool and refreshing drink.

  • Bwog’s Pick: Anything on a higher floor
  1. Temperature: Crisply cool.
  2. Cleanliness: So pristine you could make a transistor on it.
  3. Accessibility: Right by the elevators.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: High pressure and satisfying water volume.
  5. Miscellaneous: Placed a tad low to the ground, and you have to bend over uncomfortably far.


NoCo is minimalist and sleek. Though the ridiculous hats of Joe workers are irritatingly hip, you are happy that such a space exists on campus. It preps you for a refreshingly cold taste of water.

  • Bwog’s Pick: Level 3, in Joe’s
  1. Temperature: Deliciously chilly.
  2. Cleanliness: Immaculate– not a food particle in sight.
  3. Accessibility: In a high traffic area, but mostly line-free.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Well-pressured and speedy.
  5. Miscellaneous: Vaguely pretentious, but useful when you’re in line for Joe.


Like Mudd, Pupin falls short in the water pressure department, and the water that is available has a vaguely unpleasant metallic taste. There’s a fountain on each floor, but you should probably just head over to the shiny palace that is NoCo.

  • Bwog’s Pick: 5th floor (lobby)
  1. Temperature: Just shy of frigid.
  2. Cleanliness: Spic ‘n span.
  3. Accessibility: Very convenient.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Height is unimpressive, but not totally inadequate. The stream is nice and consistent, with no weird dribbles.
  5. Miscellaneous: Doesn’t have the strange metallic taste of the fountains on other floors.


These water fountains should be avoided in general– they’re on every floor but are warmish and often blocked by foreign objects. If you have to stop in for a drink, go for convenience’s sake alone.

  • Bwog’s Pick: The third floor (technically): the fountain to the right and down the ramp from the entrance.
  1. Temperature: Coolish.
  2. Cleanliness: Very clean.
  3. Accessibility: Easy to get to from the door but  somewhat secluded in one of the building’s many weird crannies. It’s also slightly too low for comfort.
  4. Overall Stream Quality: Height is average– you could fill your water bottle but not all the way to the top. This is a splash free zone, however.


Ideals to aspire to via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Anonymous  

    Meanwhile, there's a research university all around us that pushes out thousands of patents and papers a year.


  2. Anonymous  

    Dodge gym! the one down the long hall outside the wrestling room. #1 on campus

  3. Anonymous

    The only good water fountain in Morningside Heights is the one at Riverside Drive and 116th (the Woman’s Health Protective Association Fountain)

  4. Anonymous  

    This post is amazing. Bwog, how I love thee.

  5. Anonymous  

    There's one on the 6th floor of Altschul that not only provides good cold water but also has a display that tells you how many water bottles have been saved by using that fountain. While not strictly necessary, it's kind of fun.

    • Meh

      There are also ones like this in the LLC. Unfortunately, the bottle count is completely faulty, unless you consider a each "bottle" to hold 3 ounces.

    • Anonymous  

      Those are a hit or a miss. The one in Carman gets clogged up for days, and it takes FOREVER to fill up your bottle. It's extremely annoying as it's the only one on the basement floor for gym users. And take the tally machine with a grain of salt: I save three bottles every time I refill one according to the Carman fountain.

  6. cc'12  

    ugh, the worst water fountains are in philosophy! it's this sad little dribble. those fountains need to get their prostates examined immediately.

  7. THIS  

    is true investigative journalism. Hats off to you, Bwog.

  8. Avery Work Study Student  

    The fountain in the sorting room is MUCH better than the one in Wallach. It's much cooler and has better "stream quality."

  9. Anonymous  

    Does anyone know what that fire smell was last night?

  10. SEAS 13  

    First floor Mudd is great

  11. Anonymous  

    " The high-pressured stream ascends beautifully to your face so you do not have to bend down too far."

  12. YERP  

    The dodge gym water fountain by the vending machines on the entrance level (the floor numbers in dodge confuse me) always splashes me when I try to get a drink of water. It's pretty embarrassing but then I realized it happened to everyone.

  13. Anonymous  

    hahaa this is awesome.

  14. BC '12  

    The quad basement fountain is a consistent winner. Still make the occasional visit.

  15. Anonymous

    i would not say Butler water is clean at all. More than once, I've noticed after filling my water bottle (or after the 1st mouthful) that there are little white specks floating around. At first I thought it's just that the water is cold, but after the water has settled the specks just floated on the surface...
    One time I filled the water, and after I walked down a flight of stairs, and was alarmed at this sound that sounded like soda bubbling. I realized it was my water, and I tried to wait till it settled but it just didn't stop bubbling...

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