A thirst quenched, a penny saved

State Hornet Staff

The hydration stations on campus that refill containers for free have saved about 300,000 water bottles since additional locations were installed last year.

That is 300,000 bottles that were not bought from vending machines or stores with the eventual risk of going into landfills instead of recycling. Also, because it takes 1.87 liters of water to produce one 16-ounce water bottle, a very scarce natural resource is conserved along with another scarce resource to students especially – money.

“The primary effort is to get people to not use disposable water bottles,” said Dean Sorenson, director of the University Union.

Sorenson explained the reason for the refill station in the Union was because students would travel to The Well with the sole intent of filling their containers. Having stations in the Union would save students time and effort.

“We’re fulfilling a service here because we’ve got upwards to 20,000 members of the community a day coming through the building Monday through Thursday,” Sorenson said.

There are two stations in the Union, one upstairs and the other on the third floor, adding up to 200,000 bottles, with more stations in the residential housing areas totalling approximately 100,000.

Housing and Residential Life Sustainability Officer Angela Murdoch said in an email the American River Courtyard built their station October 2012, with about 50,000 bottles saved since. The one in Sutter Hall saved around 25,000, while Desmond saved roughly 49,000 bottles.

The other halls have water-filling stations, but they do not have counters.

“We currently do not have plans to add more hydration stations into our existing halls,” Murdoch said. “If there was a greater demand from our residents, we would look into the possibility.”

Associated Students Inc. passed legislation May 2012 to donate funds toward creating the station on the first floor of the Union. It was installed fall semester 2013, along with the one on the third floor that was paid for by the Union.

“Both of them usually have at them lines during the middle of the day where they’re getting used frequently,” said Norma Sanchez, assistant director of operations at the University Union.

Sorenson said the station on the third floor, which was originally a drinking fountain, was upgraded so students would not have to go two floors down to get their containers filled. It has conserved about 20,000 bottles since then.

There are no plans for more refill stations because of a lack of areas where water fountains are located. Other areas would involve having to place new pipes, said Sorenson.

“It’s a bigger project than just plopping that thing in there,” Sorenson said.

Fifth year business major Angela Martinez said it would be better for her if the AIRC had a refill station because the building is open 24 hours a day.

“It’s a long walk from my car to my classes and I get exhausted and thirsty,” Martinez said.

Fourth year communications studies major Naseem Algazzali believes additional locations for free refills would be beneficial to students on the other side of campus away from the Union.

“Having to come here [the Union], fill it up and go is a bit of a hassle,” Algazzali said.

Murdoch said the sensors indicate when it is time to replace the filters, with the cost of new filters being a minimal fee.

Sanchez said filters for the stations are replaced after about 3,000 gallons at the cost of $75 each filter.

“I know we’re changing the filters quite often, so that’s an indicator that it is getting used,” Sanchez said.

Martinez stopped buying water bottles since she started refilling her container at the station on the first floor of the Union before her classes. She said they are really helpful because they help her save a dollar a day.

There is no way for the university to tell how many water bottles from vending machines are sold each day, Sorensen said. But he feels the refill stations serve multiple purposes for the environmentally-conscious consumers.

“Some people are interested in going out of their way to be eco-friendly and save $1.25 and other people not so much,” Sorenson said.

Algazzali first noticed the refill stations spring semester when she saw someone filling up their containers. She would spend around $10 a week purchasing water bottles from the store before discovering a cost-free alternative.

“This is much more convenient. It’s just annoying having to wait in line, wasting money on a water bottle when I can just go and refill this one,” Algazzali said.