Campus & Community

Campus hydration stations save waste from 1 million water bottles

Hydration stations on the University of Denver campus — water fountains that feature a spout for filling reusable water bottles — have saved waste from a total of more than 1 million disposable plastic water bottles.

“I think we were all pleasantly surprised that we actually hit a million and that it’s still going,” says senior chemistry major Dan Powell, chair of the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee, the group behind installation of the hydration stations. “Now, the ability to fill a bottle is an expectation. It used to be new and cool, but now it would be weird for me if there was not a way to fill a bottle at a water fountain.”

The hydration stations feature a counter that shows how many disposable bottles have been saved. The counters measure by volume, with 12 ounces of water representing one disposable bottle of water.

Hydration stations were first installed in the 2010–11 academic year as part of the Take Back the Tap initiative, which aimed to reduce and ultimately eliminate bottled water on campus.

Powell says the hydration stations have made it more convenient for campus tour groups to fill up reusable bottles.

“There are now hydration stations in every toured building,” he says. “Phase one of our project is complete, which was really cool for the seniors on the sustainability committee. Now phase two is all about the buildings that are easy to forget about.”

The sustainability committee recently installed new hydration stations in the Physics Building and Seeley G. Mudd Hall. Before the end of the year the group plans to add two stations to the Shwayder Art Building and two stations to the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Next year, the committee will add two more stations to the Newman Center, for a total of four. Other locations may include Boettcher West and Craig Hall.

“Hydration stations are expensive, and we don’t want our whole budget to go toward that, so our plan is to do a couple every year,” Powell says. “Sometimes we can add a simple metal spigot, which is my favorite because it’s cheaper. But some older fountains just aren’t made for that, so it’s cheaper to tear them out and put in new ones.”

However, Powell says, the committee has not had to pay for every hydration station on campus.

“They’ve started adding them to new buildings, like the Anderson Academic Commons,” Powell says. “It’s starting to get built into the system.”

The committee also bought reusable water bottles for the Class of 2018 as the freshman gift.

“The reason people buy single-use water bottles is because they’re convenient, so the idea is to make it even more convenient to refill water bottles,” said Powell. “Give people bottles they like, and make it easy to fill them up.”



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