SU committee to probe students’ access to water
In light of the ban on bottled water last year, some Washington University students say they do not have easy enough access to drinking water on campus.
As a response to address the concern, a committee—headed by Student Union Senator Tegan Bukowski—has been formed to evaluate campus water fountains and ensure that students have adequate access to good quality water.
“With the bottled water ban, Washington University took away the ability to buy water on campus, but did not present any options for students to obtain good drinking water for personal water bottles,” said Bukowski, a senior.
Some of the only places to fill up a water bottle on campus are Holmes Lounge and Whispers Café, according to Bukowski. Many other water fountains cannot accommodate reusable water bottles under the spigot, while some areas on campus lack functional water fountains.
Matt Malten, assistant vice chancellor for campus sustainability, agrees it is difficult for students with personal water bottles to fill up at some fountains on campus. As more students pick up this green practice, Malten said it is important for the University to make sure there are “appropriate [places] for people to fill up their reusable bottles.”
An added benefit of improved water fountains, according to Malten, is their contribution to campus buildings’ LEED certification—a measurement of their environmental sustainability.
“One of the components in LEED certification looks at the overall efficiency of delivering water for the various uses within a building,” he said.
New fountains a challenge to find
Bukowski and the committee are looking for a replacement brand of water fountains that would better fit a water bottle underneath the spigot. But so far, the task has proven expensive and difficult.
A basic water fountain can cost between $800 and $1,000—specialized water fountains may cost even more and are often harder to find.
“The market is just completely devoid of any sort of regular drinking fountain that has a higher spigot, and the only ones we found were only in Australia and New Zealand,” Bukowski said.
The committee has identified one option in the HAWS HydrationStation water dispenser.
The HAWS HydrationStation “polishes water and dispenses it into a bottle, glass, or other container [and] processes tap water into great tasting pure water using state-of-the-art filtration technologies,” according to its Web site.
Vice Chancellor for Facilities Art Ackermann supports the move for new fountains, but said extra water filtration is probably not necessary.
“Water quality in St. Louis—most people think it tastes pretty good,” Ackermann said. “The water comes from the Missouri River, so that’s good water quality-wise.”
The future of fountains
Although the SU committee is not finished with its research on new fountains, the project is moving along as planned.
Liz Kramer, assistant coordinator for special projects, is currently making a map to mark places on campus with water fountains and fountains that need to be replaced.
With Kramer’s map and input from students, the committee will move forward to decide where to install new fountains.
The first priority, however, is to fix fountains that are currently in use.
Ackermann noted that much work remains to be done but that all the efforts will be important.
“I think it’s a great thing that the students have come up with and are driving,” he said. “I think it’s commendable.”