By Daniel Schemer, August 2010
In an effort to reduce bottled water on campus and encourage change in students’ water consumption, $10,000 acquired from student fees has been allocated by the University to purchase water-filling stations, aka hydration stations. Students and faculty will be able to fill their thermoses and other reusable containers with water, free of charge.
Following the success of the Tripp Athletic Center’s hydration station, The Student Fee Allocation Committee (SFAC), whom decides what to do with student fees collected over the school year, approved the measure for $10,000, which the Chancellor signed off on. This money will allow for the purchase and installation of 3-4 stations; the physical cost of a hydration station runs around $2,000, with installation costs somewhere between a few hundred to $1,000.
The aim is to make these hydration stations as visible and accessible as possible so that people know about and use them. They will be installed at key high-traffic areas, such as near the Commuter Café in the Campus Center, the south entrance of the Liberal Arts building, and either CVPA’s 2nd floor common area, or somewhere on Science/Engineering’s 1st floor.
Bottled water is a high commodity and brings in substantial revenue for just about any college or university. Negative environmental impacts from bottled water include increased trash, wasted plastic, exorbitant amounts of oil and energy that go into bottling and transporting the water, and the stigma this industry creates for tap water. Installation and promotion of these hydration stations will provide a convenient alternative, help everyone save money, reduce trash and unrecycled plastic on campus, and encourage sales of reusable containers.
There’s practically no empirical evidence that suggests bottled water is cleaner than tap water, especially since most bottled water in the world IS tap water. Tap water is just as safe, or even safer, than most bottled water because of the level of testing it must go through. Municipal water facilities in the United States fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA, and must follow incredibly strict guidelines and standards of filtration, contaminant detection and purification. Furthermore, all water facilities are required to inform the public of water quality reports and outbreaks of contaminants.
Worldwide, between $50-100 billion is spent on bottled water every year. It takes an estimated 17 million barrels of oil per year to make all the 29 billion plastic water bottles used in the U.S, the world’s largest consumer of bottled water; that’s enough to fuel 1.3 million cars each year. Loose FDA regulations mean only a small percentage of bottled water brands disclose water quality reports and are only required to test their water once a week, as opposed to the EPA requiring municipals to test their water 100’s of times a month. Both Coca-Cola’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina, 2 of the biggest brands in the world, originate not from mountain springs or arctic glaciers, but from public drinking water facilities.
Sales of bottled water in the U.S. dropped for the first time in 5 years in 2009.