Study finds lower North Island's playground drinking fountains woefully inadequate

A new study has found that only 20 percent of playgrounds in the lower North Island have drinking fountains.

Researchers want minimum standards for water fountains in New Zealand, especially in light of the country's recent heatwave.

Tackling the playground in soaring temperatures can be thirsty work, but don't rely on public drinking fountains to stay hydrated.

"We tend to fill up drink bottles for the kids, because a lot of the playgrounds don't have drinking fountains," said Wellington mum Alice Chambers.

According to a new study from the University of Otago in Wellington, she's right.

It randomly selected 54 playgrounds across 17 council areas in the lower North Island - only 11 playgrounds had water fountains.

"We found that only 20 percent of the children's playgrounds had a drinking fountain, which we think is not really good enough, seeing as New Zealand is facing issues such as heatwaves," said author Nick Wilson.

The fountains they did find were poor quality.

There are no health concerns from a bit of discolouration, but Professor Wilson says it discourages people from using them.

"One even had grass growing out of the top part of the fountain, so that was clearly a lack of maintenance," Prof Wilson said.

This follows a similar study last year that called for more investment in Wellington's public fountains.

Deputy Mayor Jill Day says there is on-going work to install more fountains at recreation spots around the city, including playgrounds.

And maintenance for one fountain costs $900 a year.

Wilson wants to see central Government set minimum standards for drinking fountains in playgrounds and parks, so parents like Ms Chambers can rely on access to drinking water.

"They should be at every playground we have," she said.