Notwasserbrunnen

Zürich’s emergency water supply.

I’d seen a few of these contemporary-looking fountains around town, and included this photo in a collection of otherwise nondescript fountains last week. It turns out, however, that these fountains have an interesting story as well as a functional design.

One of Zürich’s ‘Notwasser’ fountains, serving as emergency water supply. This one has a doggy bowl too.

I learned from a post on zurich1200fountains (which also has a prettier picture) that these fountains were built specifically as an emergency water supply for Zürich, with a separate water source – indeed, one that does not depend on electric power. These Notwasserbrunnen originated as the result of a competition in 1973, according to this page. From what I discern through Google Translate, “A special internal construction allows a tap to be connected and thus to enable the population to draw water with buckets in an emergency.”

“Eighty of these special drinking fountains have been installed in the city
area. The city of Zurich’s emergency water supply is based on an independent emergency water network that, with spring water from the Sihl and Lorzetal, and is fed by city sources. In addition to the emergency water wells, there are around 300 more wells with separate spring water network. This works with a natural slope and is therefore also independent of the power supply.” [Google translation of this page, with some editing; I welcome corrections from my German-speaking friends!]

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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