The Great Water Project


We all love it.

However, we need to find a way to get it; it’s not always obvious to get hydrated quickly and efficiently in each building. Also, some water sources are better than others— so, where’s the best water at Yale? Where is the best-located water in each building? These are crucial questions that Yale, nay, the world needs to know the answers to.

I brought up this idea with my friend Neil, and I told him about the wonderful plan of trying out every possible water fountain we could access on campus. Below is an abridged transcript of this long, arduous task.

07:58, 2021-12-06, Dunham Laboratory

Jason: So hear me out, right?

Neil: Right.

J: I have a friend who claims the best water is in the CEID.

N: Interesting. I don’t think I’ve tried the water there before.

J: I can bring you there sometime. But that’s not the point. My point is the question of if this is provable— what if we went on a trip to visit every water fountain on campus and rate it?

N: Sounds like a great idea. We can even review each source. Let’s do it sometime. Reading Period?

J: Works for me.

Reading Period is the last week or so of the semester before finals, where (most) classes don’t meet so time can be spent studying for finals. Since we were both confident in not needing to study for the entirety of the week and no class meant that there was no homework, this was the perfect opportunity. Over Discord, we debated on what criteria we would use to rate each water, and settled on a mix of taste, temperature, location, positioning, and pressure, and we agreed to adjust these criteria if necessary to accommodate for the more… interesting water sources. We also settled on an average score of 50/100, which would be something like slightly-below-room-temperature bottled water, and if a water fountain didn’t work, we would rate it a 0/100.

When the time came, we met in Linsly-Chittenden, a building on Old Campus, and discussed our strategy for actually going to all water fountains.

18:27, 2021-12-12, Linsly-Chittenden Hall

The chalkboard where we strategized.

J: OK, we’re going to need a plan here. How are we going to get every water source? Do we want to get every water source? Like, the northernmost building we have access to is the Divinity School, and that’s far.

N: True. First, let’s start with the south.

J: Do we start in the Med School?

N: We can’t— wait, I think we can get in.

J: Yeah, we could, but if the point is to also review the source, and I don’t think lots of other people have access, do we bother going?

N: I think what we do is separate the main campus and the things around campus.

J: Things around campus? What do you mean by that?

N: Like the med school. There’s a lot more things around campus when you think about it. Like the track field and the Yale Bowl and the tennis court—

J: OK, let’s make a list.

N: So where do we start? Let’s go from south to north.

J: I think the sourthern-most point would be.. here, right?

N: I think there’s things further south, like the British Art Center.

J: But wouldn’t that count as around campus?

N: But we have access to it.

J: Oh! There’s also the Asian-American Cultural Center, which is even further south. I think they have an event today from 8 to 10, so we can definitely access it.

N: Hmm, let’s save that for another time. I think we just pick buildings that our classes are in. Should we judge water based on when the building opens and closes?

J: I think an assumption we can make is that if you’re seeking water, you’re already inside the building with water, so no.

N: Fair. OK, I think we’re all set! When do you want to start?

J: How about… [glances at phone] now? I don’t have anything else to do anyway.

N: OK. We can even start here, since we’re already in the building and it’s pretty much the southernmost point anyway.

And so we decided to start in Linsly-Chittenden because it was the hall we were already in. So sue us for being lazy.

19:08, 2021-12-12, Linsly-Chittenden Hall (again)

The first water fountain.

J: Ok, I’ve set up a Google Form so we can easily do each review and take some notes.

N: Perfect. Let’s get started.

We pulled out two clean plastic cups we saved from getting takeout with a few friends a while ago. We proceeded to fill it with water from the fountain and drink it.

J: Hmm, sub-optimal pressure. And the taste I think has a bitter edge to it?

N: Yeah it tastes really bitter to me. Ugh. At least the decent temperature helps a little bit.

J: Honestly, for me it’s not too bad, a bit better than bottled water. It’s in a pretty convenient location, too.

N: I disagree, I think bottled water’s a bit better than this.

A few seconds of silence pass as we internally judge the water a bit more.

J: OK, I have a number in mind, do you?

N: Yup.

J: Let’s say the number simultaneously, on three. One, two, three.

N: 53.

J: 59. OK, that gives us an average of 56. On to the next one!

And we proceeded to do this for a lot of water fountains! We’ve gone ahead and reviewed about 30 sources over two days, marking down notes and ratings for each one, and we plan to write a full review for each one; or at least, one for each building. Unfortunately, this means we’re only something like one-third done going through all the water sources so far. Is there a lot of nuance to our reviews? Why, of course! Here’s our first review that we posted (but not the first fountain we reviewed; we’re switching things up to make things interesting):

The first water review to be posted.

Located on the second floor of 17 Hillhouse Avenue, the inaugural water source of Yale Water Review is the embodiment of “eh;” the most average water fountain there is.

What makes a water source special? Is it the comfortably chilly water it produces, cold enough to provide relief on a hot summer’s day, yet not cold enough to cause a first-year to consider transferring to a warmer place? Is it the gentle pressure of the jet of water, just enough for it to travel in a parabolic arc into the patron’s mouth? Is it the slightly sweet and pure taste of water that ironically almost certainly has some minerals in it? Is it an incredibly convenient location, easy to access from the nearest classroom? Is it positioned at an ergonomically perfect height?

On the other hand, what makes a water source particularly terrible? A weirdly warm temperature? An impotent jet of water? An oddly bitter edge to the taste? At Yale Water Review, we argue all of these things, and more, are crucial in evaluating the water of Yale.

This water fountain has none of the aforementioned. It does not spark joy in the hearts of the patrons who use it, nor does it offend the taste buds of passersby who merely think about using it. Drinking from it simply accomplishes the goal of hydration, no more, no less. It leaves the patron almost completely unchanged, the only difference being a slight increase in body water content. Therefore, it is average.

In summary, eh.


To follow our journey, follow @yalewater on Instagram, where we’ll be posting full reviews of each water source!