April 8, 2021 • 10:10 am

Here’s a photo I just took at the Austin airport.

Isn’t the word “water” enough here? What does “hydration” convey that “water” doesn’t? Is the rhyme between “hydration” and “station” the motivation?

And what about people who don’t speak English well? They might know what “water” is, but “hydration”?

65 thoughts on “Why?

  1. My wife is somewhat of a fanatic on drinking enough water. If someone is not feeling well the first thing she’ll ask is “Are you hydrated?”

  2. Another situation set up by the infamous government agency called The “department of redundancy department”. They are working on the next sign calling church a “creation station”.

  3. A hydration station is a place where you can easily refill your water bottle. Hard to do at a regular water fount.

      1. It’s a poorly designed icon. It sorta looks like a religious figure in a robe or a hat.

        It is Americans, it seems, who turned bottled water into a fetish. And by getting rid of public drinking fountains, we’re well on our way to privatizing it. Which Nestle® has been working towards for years.

    1. Oh, if that is what it means – I’ve seen those, come to think of it – then what I wrote below is way off.

    2. They could just say “Water” without reference to ‘fountain’ or ‘tap’.

      Personally I think it’s advertising. Some folks may not trust the water fountains or tap water from their local area, so if the airport called this tap water, some people (who want/need it) might not drink it. Calling it a ‘hydration station’ avoids or gets around that potential negative psychological association.

      Yeah, that’s completely irrational. A mere change in label shouldn’t change our opinion of something.Maybe during your flight you can have a deep conversation with your stewardess or steward flight attendant about it.

    3. I did not know that until this article. Indeed I infer from several Wikipedia entries that hydration stations encourage the filling of reusable and fillable water bottles and are outfitted to make that task easy compared with a water fountain. As They are separate structures in the photo, that makes sense to me. I learn new things everyday at weit.

      1. That’s a good reason not to call it simply a “drinking fountain” though I would never have guessed “water bottle filling station” from “hydration”. It makes sense once you know, though I suppose all signs have that requirement to some degree.

        1. Yeah water bottle refill or something. I do suspect that it’s somewhat of a brand name like “hoover”, “band aid”, “ketchup” that has seeped into our vocabulary (haha “seep”).

  4. Talk about “first world problems”.
    Working at 48degC in the Empty Quarter, or at 38degC on a coral islet in the Indian ocean – none of the illiterate labourers needed continual warning about “staying hydrated” – all that was needed was access to a supply of safe-to-drink water.

  5. “Water” could be for anything – potable, facility washing services, watering the landscape installations, etc.

    “Hydration” is stronger than “water” as it suggests it is for drinking, and also perhaps a bit universal such that non-English speakers might understand.

    1. “facility washing services, watering the landscape installations”

      This is a good argument for the architectural drawings to list these things separately. They guy who installs these really needs to know how many to bring.

      I think this is the likely cause — the experts who were looking into how many fire hoses and whether the people who wash the floors at night will have enough access, forgot that their eventual users weren’t in the meetings and don’t need to know any of that. Happens in many fields.

    2. How did they describe Esperanto? “Equally difficult for Urdu, Taglong and Mandarin speakers to learn.”

  6. In Milwaukee, the sign would read “Bubbler”, and out-of-towners wouldn’t have the slightest idea what that means.

    1. I live in northern Lake County, Illinois, and because of my close proximity to Wisconsin, I prefer to use the relatively stress-free General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee rather than deal with the headaches of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I regularly enjoy a chuckle when I linger in the “Recombobulation Zone” after going through the security check.

    1. Yeah, there’s kind of a bit of implicit finger-wagging in there, isn’t there. ‘Dont forget to drink your six gallons of water a day or you might not make it to tomorrow’, that sort of wellness-piety…

        1. There was a very fun bit on the TV show Kim’s Convenience where to older immigrant men are discussing the ubiquity of fancy water bottles in Canada – ‘stainless containers crafted by hippies’. It’s worth googling it just to see the clip.

        2. Oh the filler is a good idea. Especially in an airport once you’re past security, since they could demand you throw out or empty any opened water bottle you had. So thumbs up on having a place to fill empty water bottles. The question is only really about the pretentious name, and if it serves a useful purpose or is just…pretentious.

          Pre-covid, my office building had those same things. It was really nice to be able to fill your bottle and take it back to your desk. But signage wasn’t an issue, because there was no sign (since the same people worked there day after day).

      1. You’re on to something there.

        It reminds me of the equally ridiculous “choose your protein” at some fast-food restaurants where you have to say what meat you want. What’s the point? To numb the scruples one might have about eating animals by obscuring the fact? Beats me.

        At any rate, that and this absurd “hydration station” label make one feel like some sort of mechanical device that needs to be well oiled or something.

        1. the equally ridiculous “choose your protein” at some fast-food restaurants

          If I ever see such a sign, I shall request … insulin, for a laugh. Canine insulin. With 50-odd amino acids, that should produce about 2 molecules each of the correct amino acids and be fairly close to what I actually need (without going to the biochemical effort of breaking it down to smaller molecules than the AAs).
          Actually, thinking about it for a few seconds, don’t cats have issues with sugar metabolism, so feline insulin might be more available. Veterinarry grade is entirely adequate – better than “food grade” for most purposes.

  7. Is the rhyme between “hydration” and “station” the motivation?

    aka “Coyne’s hydration-station speculation”?

  8. If this is outside of security you won’t be able to carry it through anyhow. I suppose if it’s inside it’s at least functional. I’m not sure it’s worse than calling a toilet a “restroom”

    1. I’m not sure it’s worse than calling a toilet a “restroom”


      Perhaps the sign along to the left should read, “Persons of uterus” or something equally woke.

  9. I prefer thirst ablation station. I also nominate airport restaurants be renamed gustation stations.

  10. Might it be that the water supply was used as a weapon to subjugate indigenous peoples and hence the word, “water,” might trigger old wounds inflicted by, and still being exacerbated by, white supremacist culture?

  11. Perhaps PCC (E)’s stated resolve to go light on the meat post-TX can be viewed as “nutrition contrition.” 😉

  12. Ok, this is probably just me, but at a distance that icon looks a heck of a lot more like a candle than a water bottle; ergo, confusing!

  13. Hydration stations are a common parlance in hospitals where nurses and other staff, not being allowed in most care areas and nursing stations to have any food or beverage for sanitary reasons, may store and consume their liquid comestibles including water

  14. Are we to believe that people with water bottles don’t know they can fill up at a “Water” sign? Give me a break.

    1. You can see the special machine for filling water bottles instead of trying to bend the water bottle into the fountain. That special machine is called a “hydration station”.

  15. Structural types exist, but do not show purpose.
    Functional types don’t exist, but show purpose.

    Water is a structural type, hydration is a functional type.

    My hypothesis: people who are fond of things that don’t exist like *hydration-station*, but people like me, obsessed with things that exist, prefer structural types.

  16. “Water” would be fine, assuming it is water which is coming out. Perhaps it’s Gatorade. Jerry – did you check?!

  17. We have those at work. The difference is the station is the place where you fill your water bottle not the fountains. I suspect that it’s almost a company like “hoover” and the signs are just repeating it.

  18. I think there should be a “cryer” standing in front of the water dispensing machines/fountains with a big bell shouting “Water! Get yer water!” followed by a “ding ding” of the bell.

  19. So… perhaps the signs outside the toilets (saying ‘Women’ or presumably ‘Men’) should say ‘Womens Dehydration Station’ or ‘Mens Dehydration Station’ as appropriate?

  20. A puzzled professor E M at the Univ of C,
    Was wondering what the possible meaning could be
    of the woo bloviation
    called Hydration Station
    Some ‘potable water” must be the key.

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