Hydrant water fountains set for Montreal

Two devices were installed last year in Montreal with a further three added over the 2015 Canadian summer © Bornéo

A new design that uses fire hydrants to provide drinking water has been introduced throughout Montreal following a pilot scheme last year.
Called the Bornéo system, it works by attaching a 1.35-metre metal ring to a hydrant that provides drinking water through four valves. Designing the solution hand-in-hand with Montreal’s fire department ensured the viability of the project and allows complete access at all times to the hydrant.
“Fire hydrants are plentiful and showed a great potential access point to city water infrastructure,” said Antoine Dubois, one of the six designers behind the project. “Hence, we steered our efforts towards designing a device that would be attached to fire hydrants. When you think of it, why can’t citizens have access to the fresh water running under our city sidewalks?”
In 2014, two Bornéo devices were installed in Plateau Borough and tested in a public pilot project. This past Canadian summer, the borough deployed three more. Other municipalities have shown an interest and the team is looking to make it available on a wider scale.
“We had multiple objectives including to improve access to water outside of the home,” he said. “On hot summer days, it reduces risks of dehydration for all, especially for elderly people and we offer an undeniable eco-responsible alternative to the sale of bottled water, especially during large events, where we encourage refills of reusable water bottles.”
Each device costs the city C$5,150 (US$3,950) but according to Dubois this is a lot less costly then bringing water to a park to install a regular water fountain as Bornéo is simply adding to the existing water system. In winter, the fountains will be removed and stored.
Each spout gives easy access to water to adults, children and also people in wheelchairs; an internal tubing system prevents water from becoming heated under the sun and ensures hygiene.
“It’s funny to think that this project started in Montreal where there is about four months of warm summer weather for public fountains,” observed Dubois.
Although the red fire hydrant is distinctly North American, Dubois believes it can be easily adapted to existing infrastructure so long as the water used is potable.