Watch: Parents find out they shouldn’t let their kids drink from the Dilworth Park fountains

Signs went up this spring reminding people they shouldn’t drink the fountain water. And yet.

dilworth_img_0141
Kaylee Tornay / Billy Penn
shannon-wink-headshot

“Current signage is completely inadequate at Dilworth Fountains,” read the subject line of an email Billy Penn received from a reader Monday.

Center City District guards who roam Dilworth Park apparently told the concerned reader it’s parents’ responsibility to keep their kids from trying to drink from the popular fountains.

But it turns out many parents aren’t even aware of the no-drinking rule, or the signs.

Why the concern? Well … poop. After we noticed a lot of people abusing the fountains and a lot of kids drinking from them, we decided to test the water. So at the end of last summer we purchased an over-the-counter kit that showed that the water coming out of the fountains contains more than 20 colonies per 100 mL of coliform bacteria, which can — but may not — include E. coli and other bacterias commonly found in feces.

So yeah, don’t drink the water.

Playing and splashing in it is totally fine. That’s what fountains are for. But you should not be drinking from a fountain where a baby just sat in a squishy diaper.

After our test, the Center City District posted new signs around the park. They went up this spring.

The Dilworth Park signs are new for 2017.

The Dilworth Park signs are new for 2017.

Dan Levy/Billy Penn

And then came the email from our reader.

“I  read and re-read that sign on line for about 5 full minutes looking for a difference between the first and second sign .  Who would even NOTICE that symbol – let alone fully understand it’s meaning when and if they finally did ?  It certainly is not listed among the “rules” — and further, I did not even see one of those signs – including when 3 of us looked purposefully around us to find one.”

We’ve gone to the park several times at all hours and can confirm the new signs are up. But the “no drinking” part is pretty small, and easy to miss if you’re trying to keep an eye on your kid in a sea of other kids.

This reader suggested a contest for artists to design more prominent signs. That’s a great idea. Here’s another: Go to Dilworth Park. Grab a seat and watch people of all ages enjoy themselves in the dancing fountains. Give it five minutes. Look at their feet as their sweaty toes touch the water that gets cycled through the fountain system before it sprouts back up. Count the soggy diapers on babies whose tourist parents just stumbled upon the park and decided it was time for an impromptu swim. Watch a sunblock-slicked teenager rinse her hair.

You won’t want to drink the water after that.

 

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn story

Seems you’re the kind of person who really digs in. Want more? Sign up for our morning update, the quick, easy, free way to stay on top of Philly news.

Thanks for reading Billy Penn!

Like the story above, everything we publish is powered by our members.

If you appreciate local news provide, join today.

Billy Penn runs on reader support

Does Billy Penn help you feel more connected to Philadelphia?

Member donations are critical to our continued existence and growth — join us today!

Lock in your support

The story above was powered by reader support — thank you.

Become a sustainer now with a monthly membership to help lock it in.

Spread the love

Billy Penn members power our newsroom. Know someone who might want to support our work? Send them a link — they just might join the local journalism fight.