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ADA Drinking Fountains

As a business manager, you have a lot of rules to follow. Most times, they are confusing codes that can be hard to understand. When it comes to the Americans With Disabilities Act, you want your patrons to have the access they deserve. This includes drinking water fountains. 

There are several things your need to know to be sure your water fountains are ADA-accessible. Only certain models comply, and proper installation is a must. But, don’t worry, we are here to translate the code into plain English. We will help provide proper hydration for all of your visitors. 

In this article, you will learn what the Americans With Disabilities Act is, which fountains are certified compliant, installation requirements, and how to add a bottle filler. Plus, use our diagrams for even easier understanding of ADA-compliant water fountains for your business.

What is the Americans With Disabilities Act?

In 1990, federal lawmakers fought for those with disabilities to have equal access, rights, and opportunities. The act focuses on buildings, transportation and other areas open to the general public. The ADA outlines standards for accessibility and modifications when providing service to our physically challenged peers. Although it addresses many topics to prevent discrimination, this article will focus on drinking water fountains. 

What is an ADA Accessible Water Fountain?

ADA certified water fountains comply with the height and dimension measurements as outlined in the law. This addresses the total fountain height, spout height, extension from the wall, knee space, front fountain edge, toe clearance, water flow height, and clear floor space. ADA drinking fountain dimensions are as follows: 

  • Spout height: no higher than 36” from the floor to spout
  • Front edge: must extend 17”-19” from the wall
  • Knee space: 27” from the floor to the bottom of the fountain and 8” of clearance from the front edge of the fountain to the wall
  • Toe space: 9” high toe clearance space and 6” to the wall
graphic showing the proper height and depth of an ada approved drinking water fountain


  • Clear floor space: 30” x  48” surrounding the unit
  • Spout flow: 4” minimum height and must be within 3” of the front edge of the fountain

The following drinking water fountains are ADA compliant:

graphic that shows the width and depth of an ada approved drinking water fountain

Do ADA Water Fountains Have to be High Low?

A high low drinking fountain consists of one unit divided into two fountains. One is higher than the other. When code requires that you provide a drinking fountain in your business, you must supply one standard and one accessible option. While you certainly can do this with two units, a high low model is more efficient. Installation is cheaper and easier. Plus, you only need access to one water line. 

ada high low drinking fountain graphic

ADA Water Fountain With Bottle Filler

Water bottle fillers can be added to any drinking fountain. Many businesses, schools, and hospitals have adopted this option to reduce single-use plastic. To maintain ADA compliance, the bottle filler must be less than 48” off the floor. Keep in mind that users should be able to reach the bottle filler from a seated front position. Therefore, the lower bowl fountain should only extend 20” from the wall. 

The following drinking water fountains are ADA compliant and come with bottle fillers:

ADA compliance comes down to installation. Drinking fountains from reputable manufacturers such as Elkay and Oasis are fairly standard in dimensions. You need a professional that knows the code and understands your ADA obligations. Request a consultation with one of our on-staff professionals. We will make sure your business is ADA compliant for drinking water fountains. 

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