The Take Back the Tap initiative, in collaboration with the University of Connecticut’s procurement director and Office of Environmental Policy, is working to install more water bottle refill stations around campus.
Take Back the Tap has the ultimate goal of banning the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. Initiative organizer and third-semester environmental studies major Sarah Hill said she realizes there are other steps that need to be taken before plastic water bottles are completely eliminated from campus, including the installation of more water bottle refill stations in UConn buildings.
“Moving (to South Campus), I was startled at the lack of refill stations and couldn’t imagine there were places on campus with less access to water traditionally meant for drinking,” Hill said. “Again, I was startled to learn that there are some dorm buildings without even water fountains. This is a big issue that needs to be addressed so students can comfortably live on campus and before any ban on water bottles can be pursued, we need to fix this issue.”
Hill said the procurement director and two other members of the Procurement Services Office told her they would talk to facilities services about getting them installed after Hill and Larson find out where on campus they are needed.
Hill posted in the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook group asking where students would like to see refill stations. Students’ answers ranged from dormitories to the Music Building and School of Business to the William Benton Museum of Art.
“There was such an incredible amount of responses to the Facebook post, it was honestly a little overwhelming,” Hill said. “Right now, I think we first need to focus on installing refill stations in dorm buildings that do not already have access to water. I’m planning to tell the Procurement Director about all the places that are lacking refill stations, as they are all important, but am specifically highlighting the problem of the lack of refill stations and even just water fountains in dorm buildings.”
Hill said that aside from the Procurement Services Office, she will also be working with the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) to install the refill stations.
“Both the Procurement people and the Office of Environmental Policy… are already trying to work to get more refill stations installed on campus,” Hill said. “I on my own met with [USG Vice President] Wawa [Gatheru] and talked to her about getting more refill stations installed on campus, and she told me about how if I work with USG, as they have already been working to get more refill stations installed, they will pay for half of the cost.”
Hill said someone from OEP told her it could cost more to install refill stations where there are not already water fountains, but that it’s possible the cost could be included in students’ room and board tuition.
Hill said she has been happy with the response to her initiative.
“All the groups our campaign has met with thus far have received us very well,” Hill said. “This I think is in large part because we are not simply saying that we must ban plastic water bottles now, but because we realize there are other considerations and steps we have to take before a ban can happen.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.