Students and staff involved with The Bottled Water Free Initiative are working to make sustainable water more accessible on campus after the sale of bottled water was banned Tuesday, April 1.
Western will install a ‘hydration station’ outside of Zoe’s Bagels by the end of April, Students for Sustainable Water member Carolyn Bowie said.
The new station will join the five water bottle refill stations already on campus.
The Associated Students has been working to prepare students for the change by posting informational handbills on vending machines, AS VP for Student Life Robby Eckroth said.
The AS Board will also put signs up around campus this quarter that read “this is a bottled water free zone,” Bowie said, who is a senior and environmental science major.
“We want to educate and make people aware of the changes as effectively as possible,” Bowie said.
The Green Energy Fee Grant Program, a quarterly fee all students pay to support on-campus sustainability, went toward funding the first hydration stations on campus
located in Arntzen Hall, Old Main and Wade King Student Recreation Center.
Students pay 70 cents per credit up to a maximum of $7 per quarter toward the Green Energy Fee, according to the Office of Sustainability website.
With the popularity of the first three hydration stations, the university installed an additional station in Fraser Hall as a part of the 2013 remodel, using funds independent from the Green Energy Fee, program coordinator Regan Clover said.
The University installed another station in Fairhaven College this year.
Bowie thinks hydration stations are a strong visual way to promote water.
Although the University has no concrete plans to install more hydration stations, the Office of Sustainability hopes to see them included in future remodels, Campus Sustainability Manager Seth Vidaña said.
In Spring 2012, students voted to eliminate the sales of bottled water due to environmental costs.
“I think that the initiative that passed in Spring 2012 encouraged the use of refillable water bottles rather than purchasing single use bottled water,” Eckroth said. “So I think that the transition has already started to begin.”
The former bottled water in vending machines has been replaced with juice and flavored water, Eckroth said.
The university won’t know for at least six months if there will be a decrease in revenue due to the loss of water bottle sales, Eckroth said.
The university may make just as much money off the sale of other drinks, Leonard Jones, Director for University Residences, said. In which case there would be no revenue loss.
"[Students, staff and faculty] have agreed to continue monitoring how things are going and in six or seven months meet again and compare notes and make necessary adjustments,” Jones said.
Another water-related project in development is the Environmental Outreach Hydration Station, Bowie said.
In April, a permanent educational resource center on environmental sustainability will be built to accompany the new hydration station in the library, Vidaña said.
The center will provide information on Lake Whatcom and problems that threaten the lake, Vidaña said.
Lake Whatcom supplies half of all drinking water in Whatcom County, according to cob.org.
On a wall next to the hydration station, students will be able to find updates on environmental clubs and on-campus events and browse through a small bookcase with literature on topics related to sustainability, Bowie said.
The project has been awarded $23,457 by the Green Energy Fee, Clover said.
Bowie has been working on the project for two years with another student from her club, she said.
As another part of their education and outreach campaign, Students for Sustainable Water, will host a “bedazzle your water bottle” event on campus this spring.
The club will rescue discarded water bottles from the lost and found and provide students with supplies, such as stickers and googley eyes, to decorate their water bottles.
"It's a really fun event,” Bowie said. “People love it. It's a great way to get water bottles in the hands of students.”
During Earth Week, the AS will host an event to celebrate the success of the Bottled Water Free Initiative, Bowie said.
The event will be held Monday, April 21 from 5-6 p.m. in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room featuring live music, food, speakers and organizations at Western involved with environmental campaigns.
The AS Bookstore is currently offering reusable water bottles for 20 percent off.