Water just a tap away

Anthea Forbes uses the Healesville fountain with son Adam.

Fully-accessible water fountains are flowing across the Yarra Ranges in an Australian-first.

The council is introducing 11 new hydration stations, which feature all-ability handles for drinking or water bottle refill plus a dog bowl.

Acting Yarra Ranges Mayor Richard Higgins said the fountains were designed to be accessible for people of any ability, following feedback from the council’s Disability Advisory Committee (DAC).

“Committee members told us that button-operated fountains were impossible for people with a disability to use easily,” he said.

“The manufacturers of our fountains came up with this design, which has an easy-to-reach lever action.

“Rather than pushing a button, you just have to apply pressure to a lever.

“The taps are now easily accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with limited use of their hands.”

Cr Higgins said these were the first fountains in Australia using this design.

“We look forward to rolling more out across Yarra Ranges in coming years,” he said.

DAC member and Healesville resident Anthea Forbes, whose son Adam is differently-abled, said that people living with disability, their carers and support services would plan daytrips around accessible facilities like water fountains and toilets.

“It’s hard to get enough water, especially in hot weather,” she said.

“Once people and groups doing community activities know about these fountains, they can plan a day around where they are.

“The whole of Melbourne should be doing this, it’s a great initiative.”

Accessible drinking fountains have so far been installed in Healesville’s main street near the crossing; Belgrave’s main street near the Hayes car park; Upwey’s main street near the play space; Lilydale’s main street near Olinda Creek; Lillydale Lake, on the far side from the car park; PJ Mould Reserve in Wandin; McKenzie King play space in Millgrove; and Kilsyth, near the town hall.

Three more will be installed soon at Norman Reserve in Mount Dandenong; near the crossing in Melba Highway, Yarra Glen; and near the public toilets in Monbulk’s main street.

Download Yarra Valley Water’s Choose Tap app or visit choosetap.com.au to find more drinking fountain locations.

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