The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government is working to implement more reusable water bottle filling stations across campus to eliminate single plastic bottle use.
The initiative hopes to reduce UConn’s negative environmental impact from plastic bottle usage and to provide safe water for students across campus to benefit their health and increase accessibility to clean water.
Chris Bergen, a fifth-semester mechanical engineering major, had a large role in promoting the initiative and in working with students, USG members and administration to keep the project moving forward.
The idea of adding more reusable water bottle filling stations has been in the works for nearly two years, according to Bergen. The initiative was put on hold last year due to COVID-19, but since being back on campus Bergen and USG have been able to continue working toward their final goal.
“There’s a lot of support from within USG for the initiative for environmental reasons, along with the fact that this is something that students have been wanting for the last couple years,” Bergen said.
The project has two main goals, the first being to promote the university’s pledge to being environmentally conscious.
“You have 20,000 students here at UConn, if every student were to bring just one plastic water bottle to class every day that would be 20,000 bottles being thrown out every day,” Bergen said.
Gary Robbins, professor of natural resources and geology, said he understands the necessity of change in order to decrease single plastic usage.
“If you want to combat single plastic usage, I know of no other alternative other than supplying an alternative water supply,” Robbins said.
The second goal that the addition of the filling stations would meet is increasing accessibility to safe drinking water for all students.
“For students living in dorms, they can only fill their bottles in public buildings, besides using a Brita in their rooms,” Bergen said. “Having the stations will also make it easier to bring a reusable bottle around and have it be able to be filled wherever you may want.”
In order to add the water filling stations, many different factors of the project were taken into consideration.
Cost, location, and the number of stations are all important factors to think about which forces various different parties to be involved with the planning of the project.
The total project is expected to cost around 175,000 dollars. Funds from UConn as well as money from a partnership with Coca Cola have allowed the project’s mission to be feasible, Bergen said.
“Out of the $175,000 allocated for this project, $75,000 will come from USG, while the rest is originating from a Coca-Cola gift to the university for projects like these.” Bergen said.
By next semester, it is expected that the project will be underway and the bottle filling stations will be installed across campus.
“My goal for this project is to have a water bottle station in every single dorm, hopefully by next year,” Bergen said.