Daily Editor Ruby and Staff Writer Zach present you with the complete guide to Columbia’s best-tasting fountains.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a fountain as “a spring of water issuing from the earth,” “an artificially produced jet of water,” and/or “the structure from which it rises.” Zach and Ruby define a fountain as “water that people are not meant to consume.” This water, by definition, is supposed to be non-potable, but we take that as a mere suggestion—as should you. If you’re ever dying of thirst with no drinking fountain in sight, we offer you THE definitive guide to actual fountain-tasting on Columbia’s campus.

Note: don’t try this at home; fountain tasting is for professionals only*
*Neither of us have been hospitalized as of this article’s publication, so take that as you will. Personally, we are taking that to mean that we can lick and/or slurp any and every campus structure without consequence.

Uris Pool
After descending into the depths of Dodge Fitness Center, we found our way to the largest collection of still water Columbia University has to offer. While technically not consistent with the traditional definition of a fountain, the pool is undeniably a collection of non-potable water, and thus it satisfies our personal criteria. For that reason—and for the sake of journalistic rigor—we had no choice but to try it. We withdrew cups from our backpacks, dipped them in the tepid bath, raised our pinkies, and toasted to Bwog. Bottoms up! What we tasted was surprisingly salty (even for pool water!), which led us to believe that we had arrived just after swim practice. Mmmm, sweat.

Zach’s ratings:
Smell: chlorine/10
Taste: salt/10
Appearance: surprisingly calm/10

Ruby’s ratings:
Smell: 6/10
Taste: 3.5/10
Appearance: 7/10. The flags were fun!

Hose Behind Low

At first, this fountain’s earthy elixir wasn’t particularly flavorful. Its temperature, however, made it seem delightfully and deceptively crisp at first lick. We were tempted to try more, and we did. This was a mistake.

We realized that the hose water was not good only after gulping handfuls of it and swishing those handfuls around in our mouths. We were lost for words but decided that “rancid cheese” came closest to describing the barrage of terrible and successively worse tastes that came our way. It didn’t help that dirt and hose remnants came off in our mouths and that the water was sort of a beige-ish, yellowish, greenish color. Could it have been sewage water coming from Low?? Yes. Would we recommend it??? No!

Zach’s ratings:
Smell: *throws up in mouth*/10
Taste: one drop was enough/10
Appearance: water?/10

Ruby’s ratings:
Smell: 0/10
Taste: 0.5/10. This half point is only for the temperature. It was cool enough to be refreshing, but not cold enough to taste pointy.
Appearance: 4/10. The colors made the experience more interesting?

PrezBo’s Juice Fountain (formerly known as the Low Mini Fountain)

Our first impressions of this fountain were twofold: A) there’s a fountain in Low? and B) the “water” is yellow? We were intrigued, and we decided we had to give it a try. Like dogs, we eagerly stuck our faces in and lapped at the water, all while sustaining eye contact with the admissions officer sitting across from us in his office. What we tasted was a pleasant surprise–this was juice! How it got there, no one knows.

Zach’s ratings:
Smell: fruity/10
Taste: would drink as a chaser/10
Appearance: pee/10

Ruby’s ratings:
Smell: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Appearance: 2/10

East Dick Fountain: Algae Water
Having exhausted all the lesser-known campus fountain options, we headed down to Low Plaza to taste the sweet, forbidden nectar of the East Dick Fountain. We arrived to an unpleasant surprise: the dick fountains had been turned off for the winter! However, there was a small amount of stagnant, ~green~ water resting at the bottom of the fountain. Yum!!

Overheard at East Dick Fountain:
Zach: “Have you ever heard of parasites?”

Zach’s ratings:
Smell: stayed far away/10
Taste: did not try/10
Appearance: 🍆/10

Ruby’s ratings:
Smell: 6/10
Taste: 7/10. Very refreshing. Would recommend!
Appearance: 4/10

West Dick Fountain: Mud (?)
The same as East Dick, but just a little grosser. We had to think before diving in: it didn’t look appetizing, but we hadn’t come this far just to give up. The verdict? Its consistency was slightly viscous, slightly yogurt-y. It could have been Go-Gurt, if Go-Gurt were rust-colored and also slightly clumpy.

Overheard at West Dick Fountain:
Ruby: “Should I smell it?”
Zach: “You could honestly do whatever at this point.”

Zach’s ratings:
Smell: none/10
Taste: had to turn around while she “ate” it/10
Appearance: go see for yourself/10

Ruby’s ratings:
Smell: 5/10. Nice!
Taste: 3/10
Appearance: 0/10

Final rankings:


  1. Low Mini Fountain
  2. East Dick Fountain
  3. Uris Pool
  4. West Dick Fountain
  5. Hose Behind Low


  1. Low Mini Fountain
  2. Uris Pool
  3. Hose Behind Low
  4. and 5. The other two I didn’t taste (yes, they looked that bad)

photos via fountain friends