During the public forum at last week’s A.S. Legislative Council meeting, speakers Mo Lovegreen, chair of the UCSB Sustainability’s Waste and Water subcommittees, and Lauren Barnum, a second-year environmental science major and Water subcommittee member, requested funding for the installment of hydration stations across campus.
The project would use drinking fountains to filter water through a reverse osmosis filtration system to increase the re-use of water bottles with clean, filtered water, with the long-term goal of reducing the use of plastics. The cost to develop and maintain each hydration station is roughly $1,000, while the filters and other parts add up to $400 per unit, according to Lovegreen.
Currently, Barnum and her group have requested funds from The Green Initiative Fund and Coastal Funds for $25,000, respectively. The group has also garnered support from campus organizations such as Environmental Affairs Board, the Plastic Pollution Coalition and A.S. Community Affairs Board, Barnum said.
“The Hydration Station project would substantially decrease UCSB’s waste and increase the health of students by not having single-use plastics on campus; we will not have to recycle them,” Barnum said. “Even though recycling is better than throwing something away in a landfill, there are still byproducts of recycling that negatively affect our environment.”
Barnum said while the price of sustaining the project seems stunning, it would advocate sustainability by encouraging the ban on single-use plastics throughout the campus community.
“One of the long-term goals of the project is to really make people think about where their plastic will end up and to encourage the use of reusable water bottles by providing free water to those who have them,” Barnum said.
According the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, on-campus students consume about 8,000 plastic water bottles per day. Despite the hefty cost of the project, Barnum said the purchase of single-use water bottles accumulates to a larger total.
“We are all very excited about this project and hope to receive full funding because it will significantly improve our local environment by eliminating plastic from our beaches, oceans and campus,” Barnum said. “Although it is expensive, this project is worthwhile because it increases the students’ quality of life by providing completely clean water free of charge.”
In order for cleaner water to be accessible throughout campus, Barnum said her group hopes to develop about 45 hydration systems.
Legislative council member Marlene Moreno said the project would be an integral step in ensuring UCSB’s sustainability.
“I think that Hydration Stations are the next stop toward a greener campus,” Moreno said. “I am excited to hopefully see more around campus very soon.”
Currently, there are three hydration stations on campus, located in Cheadle Hall, Santa Cruz Residence Hall and the Arbor. Although the latter charges a $0.25 fee, the first two offers the services free of charge.
For more information about the Hydration Station project, attend the Water Working Group’s meetings each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Graduate Student Lounge of the MultiCultural Center.