Students’ Project Reduces Bottled Water On Campus

Students’ Project Reduces Bottled Water On Campus

Water Filling Stations Installed
On the campus of Western Washington University (WWU), located in Bellingham, Washington, members of the on-campus club, Students for Sustainable Water just completed a year-long project.  With a grant from Western's Green Energy Fee, the students were able to secure and install three water refilling stations around campus.

Western sophomore Ashton Griffen uses one of three new sustainable water stations. Photo by Erin Nash

Students for Sustainable Water is very active on campus in an organized effort to ban bottled water from being sold or distributed in all venues.  Last year, a study, entitled "Drink Local", coordinated by Danielle Gross, Julia Shure, and Katie Haug, raised awareness of both the implications of drinking bottled water and the benefits of drinking local water, as well as proposing a detailed phase-out plan of bottled water.  The study suggested that the Students for Sustainable Water Club work with the campus dining contractor to remove bottled water from catered events on campus as an initial step towards reducing bottled water consumption on campus.

Students for Sustainable Water Club
Statement of Purpose: Students for Sustainable Water is a club dedicated to educating our campus and community about a variety of social and environmental issues related to water sustainability, both globally and locally, including international human rights, corporate ownership of water, the health of our local watershed, and the impact of bottled water. Our goals include banning bottled water on campus and providing service learning opportunities focused around Whatcom watershed. (Source: WWU orgsync)

The following story was originally published in "The Western Front" and written by Jameson Hawn.  It is republished here by permission.

Green Energy Fee funds bottle refilling

The final water bottle refilling station was installed Monday, Jan. 9 inside Western’s Wade King Student Recreation Center, capping the first student-proposed Green Energy Fee project on campus.

"The water bottle refilling station project is the first of five projects to be completed", said Anna Amundson, president of the Students for Sustainable Water club, and was installed two months ahead of schedule by Facilities Maintenance.

The Green Energy Fee is funded by a per-credit fee ranging from seven cents to $7 per credit hour, which is applied to Western students. Facilities Management had $20,229 to purchase and install the three water bottle refilling units, based on a maximum estimate.

Water bottle refilling stations are currently located on the second floor of Old Main and on the first floor of Arntzen Hall.The final station, unveiled on Monday, is located in the rec center.  “Our idea with this was just to make tap water more appealing and more sanitary and easy,” Amundson said.

The current units use the same water as the attached drinking fountain, and could accept filtration in the future, said Kathryn Freeman, Green Energy Grant program coordinator.  “The program only covers initial implementation costs. It does not cover on-going costs,” Freeman said. “So filters would be considered an on-going cost. The departments that are responsible for where the units are placed would have to pay for that, and so we ended up having to go with a non-filtered option.”

Funding was awarded based on a student proposal geared toward water sanitation and cutting the number of disposable bottled water sold on campus.  Five grants by the Green Energy Fee, totaling $263,900, were presented to various clubs at Western for their student-designed systems, Freeman said.  The introduction of the water refilling stations was part of a year-long effort by the Students for Sustainable Water club and Western Green Energy Fee, which awarded the funding for the project.

“Students seem to really love them,” said Wes Wilkinson, a plumber with Facilities Maintenance. “I had one in and in the first half hour we had 26 students use it.”  “These stations are to encourage people to fill their own water bottles and eliminate waste of disposable water bottles,” Facilities Maintenance employee Steve Morrow said.

The refilling stations, manufactured by Elkay EZH2O, are touch-free devices incorporating a standard water fountain with a wall surface mount for easy bottle access. Each unit features a digital readout, telling users how many 20-ounce bottles of water have been saved by using the device.

The installation of the units is one step for the Students for Sustainable Water, who are working toward banning bottled water sales on campus, Amundson said.

“I don’t see why students wouldn’t [use the refilling station],” said Western sophomore Ashton Griffen. “It’s kind of convenient and it’s free.”

Source: The Western Front
Credits: Photo by Erin Nash