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AS Sustainable Action Fund introduces portable water stations

By Lauren Drake   Students at outdoor events around Western’s campus will now have access to sustainable drinking water for the first time. Portable water filling stations from Western’s Associated Students Sustainability Action Fund and Viking Union Event Services are now available on a rental basis. Refill stations were conceptualized by sophomore Ben Waight and senior Ryan Gluckman in fall 2015 and are ready to roll. The popular hydration stations which have been installed in 11 buildings across campus were the inspiration behind this idea. Portable stations now allow for filtered water to be easily accessed outside of buildings. Since April 2014, the sale of disposable plastic water bottles has been banned on campus as part of an initiative approved by students in the 2014 AS elections. “Single-use water bottles are a huge problem and that’s why Students for Sustainable Water worked on the bottled water free agreement; reducing waste is the number one concern,” Students for Sustainable Water club member Lily Olason said. Outdoor water bottle refill stations can be reserved by event hosts online through VU Event Services’ Virtual Event Management Systems at no cost to campus organizations, said AS Communications Coordinator Sierra Tryon. “I think they’re going to be a great way to keep students at events,” Tryon said. “I know I have found myself at past events wishing that there was water around. I think it’s a great way, especially in warmer days, to keep students at events a lot longer when they don’t need to leave because they’re getting too tired or too thirsty.” Waight and Gluckman said they worked alongside maintenance staff members to design and build the water stations. Waight, one of the water station project leaders and VU Event Services assistant, said the portable water bottle filling stations are simple in their design. Rather than housing a water container on the inside, the units only contain a carbon filter and hoses that allow a water source to be attached from the outside to various water hook-up sites attached to buildings around campus. By not utilizing a container, there is no risk of contamination from water remaining stagnant and filters only need to be changed on an annual basis. “We saved thousands of dollars in purchasing by building these stations ourselves,” Waight said. “We’re making sure that water gets to students where they need it and not in a permanent installation that is more costly – we went with a very cost effective method.” The Sustainable Action Fund Grant Program is funded by students through a $7 quarterly fee. This money is allocated by the program to innovative, student-led projects that make a positive environmental impact. The program hopes it can engage the campus community in environmental awareness through projects such as these portable refill stations.

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