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Thames Water and the Mayor of London’s partnership supports water only school pledge

Friday 24th March 2023 14:47

Three people using a water fountain in a school playground

Deputy Mayor for Children and Families Joanne McCartney, Mark Taylor Head of Infrastructure at Thames Water and a pupil from Marner Primary

  • Thames Water, in partnership with the Mayor of London, is supporting the drinking fountains for London schools’ programme.
  • Drinking water fountains have been donated to 20 schools across the city, with the number set to hit 40 by April 2023.
  • The partnership has already provided 110 drinking fountains in busy locations across the capital, including outside TfL stations.
  • World Water Day 2023 aims to accelerate change to solve the water and sanitation crisis.
On World Water Day, staff and pupils across London are being encouraged to access free high-quality drinking water and pledge to become water only schools. 
World Water Day (22 March) is a global campaign which celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.
Marner Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London recently received a fountain as part of the ‘Drinking fountains for London schools’ pilot programme. Today representatives from Thames Water, the Mayor’s office and Tower Hamlets Council visited pupils and staff to hear about and celebrate their journey as a water-only school. 
During a Q&A pupils, staff and visitors discussed the positives of drinking water regularly and the benefits using the fountain would have on the environment.
The ‘Drinking fountains for London schools’ programme seeks to increase the number of water only schools in London. To date, 20 schools have received a drinking fountain through the partnership with Thames Water and the Mayor. An additional 20 drinking fountains will be installed in London schools that pledged to become water only by April 2023.
In 2019, Thames Water installed its first water fountains in partnership with the Mayor of London. The company has since fitted 110 fountains across London's boroughs. Data collected from smart meters show that many of the fountains are dispensing an average of 76 litres per day. That’s the equivalent of around 55,000 500ml single-use bottles saved from landfill per year, from one fountain.  
The fountains, which are specially, future proofed for years to come, are built to provide free high quality drinking water, improve our health, and help to reduce plastic waste. Londoners and visitors can find their nearest fountain (or free water refill point) by downloading the Refill London App onto their smart phone
Mark Taylor, Head of Infrastructure London at Thames Water said: “Everyone deserves access to high-quality drinking water, and I am delighted that our fountains are helping school children across London. It’s wonderful to see the fountain being used and enjoyed by both pupils and staff at Marner Primary School and to hear how it is supporting them in their water only journey. 
“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with the Mayor of London and the ‘Drinking Fountains for London schools’ pilot programme. We are excited to donate a further 20 fountains to schools across London next month. Initiatives like this enhance the health and well-being of pupils whilst helping the community and environment thrive.” 


Deputy Mayor for Children and Families, Joanne McCartney, said: “This partnership to deliver 20 new drinking fountains to schools in London will ensure that more young Londoners have access to clean and high-quality water to sustain them as they learn and grow.  

“The Mayor has already installed 110 public water fountains across the capital, and it is fantastic that young Londoners will now get to benefit at school.


“These fountains will also help to reduce the harmful impacts of plastic waste on our environment, resulting in a greener, cleaner and better London for everyone.”   


Water Only Schools is designed to promote good health in children in areas with the greatest need, to give children the best chance at adopting healthy habits to live a healthy lifestyle. It also encourages pupils to use reusable water bottles from a young age. Schools who have already made the change have seen pupils’ behaviour and learning improve.
Schools that have received drinking water fountains have pledged to become ‘water only’, meaning that only water, alongside plain semi skimmed, skimmed, lactose free or soya milk are available. 
Councillor Maium Talukdar, Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning said: 
“The Water-Only Schools campaign is really important to Tower Hamlets. That is why, together with our partners, we have shared Water-Only resources in the borough and supported the installation of drinking fountains in schools including Marner Primary. 
As we mark World Water Day, I am delighted that all our primary schools are now designated Water-Only. However, there’s more to do in tackling high rates of excess weight and tooth decay amongst pupils. We will continue to promote healthier lifestyles in children and families by encouraging all our schools to take the bold step of going Water-Only.”