No one drinks municipal water, even if it’s from a drinking fountain; supposedly it is contaminated with all sorts of chemicals that can make you sick. Better to buy bottled water or purify water yourself with one of those Brita filter pitchers. There is at least one of these in most homes now, particularly of university students.
Ellen drank water from fountains because she worked for the Department of Water and Power and they claimed that all of the city’s water is potable. This means that she had to drink the water on principle or risk hypocrisy. Since she wokred in Accounts Payable and not in the water treatment department, she couldn’t really be sure what sorts of impurities might remain in the water she piously ingested directly from the faucet.
In the so-called “green revolution,” Ellen noticed that much attention was thrust upon bottled-water alternatives such as newly manufactured reusable plastic bottles (which often turned out to off-gas dangerous toxins, necessitating the manufacture of less-poisonous bottles). She wondered what would happen if as many ads and as much money went into making more of our water potable in general. Perhaps that was too idealistic an idea. Plus, the water bottling industry could go the way of the American automobile, leaving abandoned water purification plants everywhere, maybe even an impoverished glacier-belt.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful to just be able to drink the water?
Putting these thoughts aside, Ellen went back to writing checks; she had to make sure that the chlorine suppliers were paid.