Outdoor drinking fountain

Hydration Station vs. Traditional Water Fountain: A Comparison

What Is a Hydration Station?

A portable drinking water station is a compact and mobile unit designed to provide clean and safe drinking water in various settings and environments.

Many have filtration and purification systems that remove contaminants, making water safe and great tasting.

Portable drinking water stations are commonly used in outdoor events, disaster relief efforts, construction sites, festivals, parks, and other locations where access to clean drinking water may be limited or nonexistent.

There are different types: standalone units with built-in water tanks or those that connect to existing water sources.

These stations often feature easy-to-use dispensing mechanisms, such as push-button faucets or water bottle filling stations, making it convenient for people to access drinking water on the go. Some systems monitor the water to ensure it’s safe and high-quality.

Hydration stations play an important role in encouraging people to stay hydrated when gathered outdoors at festivals or sporting events. They provide access to reliable sources of clean drinking water in various settings.

Traditional Water Fountains

Traditional water drinking fountains have a long and varied history, evolving over centuries to meet the needs of communities for accessible drinking water. Here’s a brief overview of their historical development:

Ancient Times

Public drinking fountains go back as far as Roman and Greek times. These early fountains often took the form of ornate stone structures with spouts that delivered water from natural springs or aqueducts. Examples include the Roman fountains of Pompeii and the Greek fountains of Athens. 

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages in Europe, public fountains continued to be important drinking water sources, especially in urban areas.

Many medieval towns and cities constructed elaborate fountains adorned with sculptures and decorative elements.

Despite these aesthetically pleasing fountains, most had sanitation and water quality issues. Waterborne diseases were common.

Renaissance and Enlightenment

During the Renaissance and Enlightenment, there were advancements in plumbing and water distribution, including more sophisticated fountains.

The world’s most cosmopolitan cities saw public water conduits and fountains become increasingly common. This means all urban residents had access to clean drinking water. 

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought significant improvements in sanitation and public health infrastructure. Many cities began installing basic and utilitarian fountains in public spaces, parks, and train stations.

These early modern fountains typically featured cast iron or bronze construction, often including decorative elements inspired by classical architecture.

19th and 20th Centuries

Drinking fountains spread across Europe and North America in the 19th and 20th centuries. This was due to the growing awareness of the importance of access to clean drinking water and public hygiene. Many cities even added elaborate fountain monuments as civic pride and progress symbols. 

Contemporary Era

In the modern era, drinking fountain design has continued to evolve, emphasizing functionality, accessibility, and sustainability.

Traditional drinking fountains have been supplemented with newer models featuring improved filtration systems, bottle-filling stations, and accessibility features for people with disabilities.

Historically, traditional water fountains were an important part of the public landscape. They were an easy and convenient option for drinking water.

Over time, their design and construction evolved, but their fundamental purpose remained unchanged: to hydrate the public. 

Which Is Better: A Traditional Water Fountain or a Hydration Station?

Determining whether a traditional water or a hydration station is the best option for your event requires a few considerations. For example, you’ll want to think about:

  • Unique needs of the event
  • Expected number of attendees
  • Available space
  • Logistical considerations

 Additionally, you’ll want to consider:


Portable drinking stations are highly versatile and can be placed virtually anywhere, making them suitable for a diverse range of outdoor events, sporting events, festivals, and temporary gatherings where access to clean drinking water may be limited.

On the other hand, traditional drinking water fountains are typically fixed installations and may not be as easily movable. If the event location lacks existing infrastructure, a portable water station may be the better choice for ensuring accessibility.


Portable water stations are often equipped with large water tanks or can be connected to external water sources.

They offer a continuous supply of drinking water to many people. Traditional drinking water fountains may have limited capacity depending on the municipal supply’s water pressure and flow rate.


Portable water stations can incorporate advanced filtration and purification systems to ensure water quality and safety, making them suitable for use in areas where water quality may be a concern at your upcoming events.

Portable stations offer convenient features such as:

  • Bottle-filling stations
  • Multiple spigots for simultaneous use
  • Wheelchair accessibility

While traditional drinking water fountains serve the basic function of dispensing water, they may lack some additional features in portable stations. 


Both portable water drinking stations and traditional drinking water fountains require regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning and hygiene.

Portable stations require periodic refilling of water tanks, filter replacement, and cleaning of dispensing nozzles – not a big deal for a single event, but over time, that’s likely more maintenance than a water fountain.

Of course, traditional fountains aren’t without maintenance needs. Traditional fountains do need maintenance for clogging, leaks, and vandalism. Consider the availability of maintenance resources and personnel when choosing between the two options.

The decision between a portable drinking station and a traditional drinking water fountain depends on factors such as accessibility, capacity, features, and maintenance requirements.

For events where flexibility, accessibility, and water quality are top priorities, a portable water station may be the better choice.

However, traditional drinking water fountains can still be suitable for events held in locations with existing infrastructure and lower water demand.

A portable water station is the ultimate way to provide clean, fresh drinking water for the guests of your event. Contact us today to find out more.