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Drinking fountains get makeovers


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Published 2008-05-09T00:00:00Z”/>

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Associated Students will pay to retrofit the water fountains this summer in the Bell Memorial Union to fill up reusable water bottles more easily.

About 85 percent of student votes said yes on the Take Back the Tap Advisory Measure, said Mark Stemen, professor of “Environmental Thought and Action,” the class that wrote the measure.

“I didn’t think we could get 85 percent of students to agree the sky is blue,” Stemen said. “It’s amazing.”

About $1,800 from A.S. building maintenance and improvements will pay to retrofit four water fountains, saving money from the Sustainable Funds Allocation Committee for more projects, said James Newman, A.S. vice president of facilities and services.

The fountains will be updated this summer because the BMU water supply has to be shut down while plumbers work, he said. It’ll also look into the cost of filters for the water fountains.

A.S. was considering updating the water fountains before it heard about the measure, Newman said. The election and estimated cost of the project came at coincidental timing.

The needs and trends on campus caused A.S. to support and pay for the retrofitting, and the advisory measure just affirmed students desires, said Jon Slaughter, director of A.S. programs and government affairs.

Newman and Slaughter joked about Slaughter bringing a Common Ground’s paper coffee cup – a rarity because he normally brings a reusable cup – to a discussion on sustainability.

The water fountains will have spigots with prongs, similar to that of Pluto’s, said Deanna Dottai, project coordinator at A.S. Sustainability and one of the authors of the advisory measure.

SFAC funds will go to retrofit other fountains, education and promotional materials, she said.

Improvements to fountains on campus will take time to be approved by the Academic Senate, Stemen said.

Next year A.S. Sustainability plans to distribute $10,000 in Klean Kanteen coupons after students pledge to use a reusable container and no longer buy bottled water, Dottai said.

The goal is to give students easy access to bottled water alternatives and to educate about social, economic and environmental impacts, she said.

“Opening the eyes is the beginning to change,” Dottai said.

Plastic water bottles create waste, and it takes more water to produce and transport the bottle than it takes to fill it, Stemen said.

The Take Back the Tap Advisory Measure doesn’t ban bottled water, he said.

“It gives them the ‘instead,'” Stemen said.

More people voted for the initiatives than any one officer, he said.

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        Drinking fountains get makeovers