I love water. I’ve been drinking it as long as I can remember, and at this point, I can’t imagine living without it. As a devoted daily imbiber of the clear stuff, I feel qualified to assess the taste of this town’s H2O, and not just the tap water. The District is full of bubbling fountains, regal reflecting pools, and quiet ponds just waiting to be sipped from. But what Washington water is most refreshing? What water is worst? I endeavored to find out.
Yes, I’ve gone around town sampling glasses of the city’s standing water so you, dear reader, don’t have to. And while it’s one thing to bike around the city with a wet glass in your pocket, stopping to drink wherever water is found, it doesn’t do you much good if I don’t rank them into a flowing listicle.
Here are eleven public bodies of Washington water, ranked by overall quality and potability:
1. Bartholdi Park Fountain
Believe me, it’s not easy reaching over the steep wall of the Bartholdi Park Fountain and scooping up a glass of H2O. But it’s definitely worth the exertion, because this is the best standing water in town. It smells like a mountain spring and tastes just as fresh and delicious. After a long bike ride across the Mall, my thirst was more than quenched. Set as it is among an inspiring assemblage of flowers and foliage, right across the street from the Botanic Gardens, I’m surprised there aren’t more residents whetting their whistles here. Perhaps that’s because of the uptight park police, who act like they’ve never seen a guy down a glass of water before.
2. National Mall Reflecting Pool
The clarity and unquestionable potability of the water in the National Mall Reflecting Pool makes me proud to be an American. In what other country does a grown man have the liberty to guzzle water from a public installation while the phallic symbol of its founder gazes down upon him? Only in America I say! I enjoyed this refreshing glass of water almost as much as a group of Japanese tourists enjoyed photographing me drinking it.
3. Senate Fountain
Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid must be doing something right, because the water in the Senate Fountain is as clear and refreshing as their august body is dysfunctional and corrupt. And it’s cold!
4. Tregaron Conservancy Frog Pond
Tucked away in Woodley Park, on the grounds of the Washington International School, is a charming little pond full of frogs and lily pads. As a resident of the neighborhood, the Tregaron Conservancy Frog Pond is literally my local watering hole (with apologies to Zoo Bar). So as bemused dog walkers looked on, I sunk a glass into what looked like cloudy water and came up with a cup of clean, crisp, and delicious liquid. It tasted so good on a sunny Saturday afternoon that I went in for seconds. If water can support amphibian life, it’s certainly good enough for this land mammal.
5. Senate Reflecting Pool
Once again, the upper chamber delivers a fine drink, though with its lack of circulation, the Senate Reflecting Pool doesn’t quite live up to the crispness of the Senate Fountain.
6. Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park Fountain
The cascading fountain in Meridian Hill Park is a sight to see and the water within doesn’t disappoint. On par with DC’s tap water, it’s the perfect place to quench the thirst you’ve worked up from that communal drum circle.
7. DuPont Circle Fountain
Thanks to its majestic marble fountain, the water in the center of DuPont Circle is well circulated and relatively clear. But I have to say, it tastes a bit tinny, perhaps because of all the coins in there. That said, the price is right, and I couldn’t discern any traces of urine.
8. Constitution Gardens Pond
Constitution Gardens Pond is a murky algae pit filled with territorial geese that were none too happy with me drinking their water. And I wasn’t too happy about it either; this stuff is slimy and foul. Have you ever tasted algae? The texture is redolent of mucus, and the taste isn’t much better. If you wouldn’t drink a glass of water filled with snot, then I suggest you stay out of this pond. Especially considering that the delicious Reflecting Pool is just steps away.
9. Southwest Duck Pond
Despite a number of bubbling fountains, the Southwest Duck Pond sports the greenest, most opaque water in town, like it was dyed for St. Patrick’s Day and stayed that way. And that’s what it tastes like: green. There’s no other way to describe it.
10. Capitol Reflecting Pool
I’m telling you, you can taste the duck shit.
11. Rawlins Park
Rawlins Park is a disgusting, rat and trash-filled mess that’s made all the worse by a fetid reflecting pool that reflects only misery. You know that mirror in Harry Potter that shows you what you wish to see most? The water in Rawlins Park is the opposite of that; look into it, and see your worst self, the person you never wanted to become. Granted, I may have only felt that way because I found myself drinking a glass of green, feather-filled water before a homeless man on a bench. But still, this place is disgusting and so is its water. It’s warm, it’s full of leaves and feathers, and it has a distinct moldy aftertaste. I’d almost rather drink a Coke.
NOTE: Out of respect for the heroic deceased and out of a fear of getting caned by an irate veteran, I chose not to drink from the World War II Memorial, despite it looking delicious. I passed on the Navy Memorial for similar reasons, and also because there were a few condoms floating in there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pee.