Eco-friendly water sources sprouting up around campus
A new water filtration system, “EZH2O,” has been installed in the voluminous Donaghey Student Center to encourage students and faculty to use a portable water container and nullify fears of possibly drinking dirty water from a public water fountain. This is the second unit to be installed at UALR, with the other being located near housing.
The filtration system is made by Elkay, a manufacturing company that specializes in making water coolers, drinking fountains, sinks and now hydration water stations.
The UALR Committee on Sustainability purchased the hydration station to help students save money, help the environment and to have freshly-filtered water.
Jim Carr, a professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering and the head of the Committee on Sustainability said he wanted to help eliminate plastic bottles being sent to land fills.
“Plastic bottles are not that much recyclable,” Carr said. “Most of the time they don’t get in to the recycling bin, they get in the trash bin, and so they end up in the landfill. Trying to remove that from the waste stream is one of the ideas behind [this initiative].”
The station, which has been retrofitted to a water fountain, provides real-time data that anyone can utilize.
Users of the hydration station are able to see if the water is being adequately filtered by quickly checking the filter status on the left-hand side of the unit. There are three small lights, using three different colors (green, yellow and red) to indicate if the filter needs to be changed or replaced.
The hydration station also provides data on the number of plastic water bottles that have been saved based on the output of water the hydration station has distributed.
Carr said he hopes for 200-300 saved bottles per week from the hydration station in the DSC.
The hydration station has been in use for about two months now and it’s already surpassed 1,000 saved plastic bottles.
The university already has plans in place to install more around the campus. Students can expect to see the next hydration station to be installed in the fitness center in mid-to-late October.
Next up for the Committee on Sustainability is “Sustainability Day,” slated to occur in October.
Carr said the Committee on Sustainability would like to use “Sustainability Day” to reactivate the “Take Back the Tap” initiative, a program in which students pledge not to purchase bottled water and track how often they fill up a re-usable container over the course of several weeks.
In addition to bringing awareness to the new hydration station and kicking off the “Take Back the Tap” initiative, Carr said the committee plans to give away aluminum bottles to help encourage students to use the hydration station on “Sustainability Day.”