Quenching the thirst

Posted on Sep 19 2014 - 7:19am by Clara Turnage

Eco-friendly fountains make university more sustainable, future installments proposed

Graphic for Hydration Station

Each Hydration Station counts every 12.5 ounces dispensed as one “bottle saved.” The total number of bottles saved was gathered by the Office of Sustainability Wednesday. Graphic by: Alli Moore

Since the first installation in 2011, Hydration Stations on campus have saved the equivalent of 910,000 water bottles and provided students with filtered, free water. Now student organizations and university officials hope to expand the initiative to the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Hydration Stations are bottle-filling systems strategically placed throughout campus that provide refrigerated water while encouraging the reuse of containers.

“I think they’re really effective,” Associated Student Body President Davis Rogers said. “My director of health promotions is actually working with people in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to see if they can replace all the water fountains there. Or at least a few of them.”

Installing Hydration Stations in the stadium has many benefits, said Cristina Leis, ASB director of health promotions.

“We really want them to go into the stadium because it’s our way to combat alcohol abuse, which is a huge problem,” Leis said. “We understand people drink in the stadium but the problem is that people get so dehydrated, especially in these early games. Including the Hydration Stations in the stadium would combat that.”

This is not the first attempt to get stations in the stadium, however.

“Many of the proposals from the Office of Health Promotions get rejected from the athletic department for financial reasons,” Leis said. “The Office of Health promotions submitted a new proposal last week, so hopefully this one will go through. If this latest proposal gets accepted, then we hope to offer students free water as soon as the next home game.”

The Office of Sustainability recorded the number of bottles saved at each location Wednesday. The stations keep track of how many 12.5 ounce bottles are filled, giving students an idea of the change each reuse makes as well as providing a way to keep track of the bottles saved.

Last year, The University of Mississippi’s Green Fund became interested in funding these projects and has since financed three Hydration Station installations. The Green Fund and Green Grove are branches of the Office of Sustainability that work with the Hydration Stations.

These three installations, located in Holman, Faser and Brevard, were implemented within the last year but have already had impressive results.

“As of last week, the total number of bottles filled is 84,967,” said Sara Douglas, post baccalaureate fellow for the Office of Sustainability.

Each facility is estimated to cost around $3,000.

“It depends on the type of station that you get, but they’re between $1,500 plus $1,500 to $1,700 for construction,” Douglas said.

Though there are now 19 working stations in 13 different buildings, the Office for Sustainability looks forward to future stations as well.

“In the future the university will put Hydration Stations in all majorly renovated buildings and new buildings,” Douglas said. “There was a new policy passed that all buildings that were undergoing major renovations and new buildings would have Hydration Stations installed. That came from Facilities Planning.”

Facilities Planning is responsible for all of the new buildings and major renovations on campus, said Ian Banner, director of Facilities Planning and university architect.

“When you do this in an existing renovation process the cost is extremely small, when you go in and break out walls and waterlines and things like that in existing buildings it can be reasonably expensive,” Banner said. “But when we’re gutting buildings anyway or in new buildings, it’s so easy to do it. We just felt like it was one of those things that was the right thing to do.”

Banner said the Hydration Stations benefited all of campus and were in the interests of both the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Planning.

“The Office of Sustainability works very closely with our office so anytime we can advance mutual goals, we do,” Banner said. “We felt that anytime we can put things in buildings that help make things better for the students, faculty and staff, we try to do it. The Hydration Stations are a relatively inexpensive way of giving people the opportunity to refill bottles with drinking water rather than using plastic and having to recycle everything.”

ASB President Rogers said the Hyrdration Stations have come a long way since the first one was installed on campus in 2011 in the Turner Center.

“It originally started when I was an ASB senator,” Rogers said. “Somebody wrote a resolution that said we should change out all the old water fountains on campus and add in Hydration Stations. It started out (at the Turner Center) and they liked it so we started writing more resolutions.”

After the initial success, the stations began to be implemented across the campus.

“Overall it’s great,” Davis said. “ASB supports it and we’re working on ways to put more Hydration Stations up with the Green Grove. They’ve done a fantastic job.”

Clara Turnage