Water Filling Stations Tap Into Bottled Water Backlash
New Food & Water Watch Guide Outlines Convenient Tap Water Delivery Innovations
Washington, D.C.—As demand for bottled water wanes, forward-thinking institutions are looking to water filling stations to meet consumer demand for safe, healthy, low-cost refreshment. This latest development in the national rejection of bottled water is highlighted in Food & Water Watch’s new guide How Your Organization Can Promote Tap Water.
“While water filling stations may be a new notion to some, they’re actually not a whole lot different than the water fountains that many of us grew up with,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Water fountains declined in popularity thanks to the bottled water’s industry’s efforts to increase its product’s prevalence over the last three decades, but in some places, water filling stations are replacing bottled water with safe, affordable tap water.”
Hooking directly into a building’s plumbing, water filling stations deliver free, chilled water to users. Many models also feature filters. Due to their design, they make it easier to refill reusable water bottles, adding yet another element of convenience for consumers. When filtering water as many models do, filling stations provide water that is safer than bottled water. Tap water, which is required to meet federal safety standards, is more stringently regulated than bottled water, which sometimes contains chemicals such as fertilizers and industrial solvents.
Institutions that install water filling stations can also enjoy significant cost savings because tap water is thousands of times less expensive than bottled water. The stations are also considered an environmentally sensitive rejoinder to bottled water. In 2007, American bottled water consumption used the energy equivalent of 32 to 54 million barrels of oil—enough to power 1.5 million cars in the U.S. for a year.
Penn State University (PSU), which recently installed water filling stations on its campus is among the innovative institutions leading the charge to encourage tap water use. “The water [here] is so healthy,” stated Paul Ruskin, communications coordinator at PSU’s Office of the Physical Plant. “Why would people waste money on bottled water?”
Others, such as the University of California at Berkeley, note the ease with which filling stations deliver water. “We wanted something that would dispense water at a high volume,” said Mike Weinberger, director of Berkeley’s recreational sports program. “People are impressed when they first see the station due to its sleek appearance, and they are impressed with the technology and convenience.”
The technology used in water filling stations can also be applied to retrofit older water fountains. Students at California State University experienced benefits first-hand when their campus Take Back the Tap chapter raised money to have filling spouts and filters installed on several water fountains. “The retrofits in our Student Union and new Rec Center have been very successful and are frequently used and praised by students, staff and faculty,” reported Deanna Dottai, one of the students who helped make the retrofit possible.
How Your Organization Can Promote Tap Water is available on line at: www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled/how-your-organization-can-promote-tap-water.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.