Filling Station

Some Massachusetts folks call it a “bubbler,” others call it a “water fountain.” WPI prefers the term “filling station.” Why? Because the hydration stations that are currently in the new Sports and Recreation Center have two spouts: one to drink from and one to easily fill up a water bottle. Soon, WPI will be adding seven more filling stations, one for each floor of the Campus Center and the Library.

September 6, 2013
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These stations are the result of the dedication of four WPI students. Nicholas Rallis, Frank Ascioti, Britney Atwater, and Mark McCabe worked together to complete their IQP. Rallis and his partners chose to do their project in the Worcester Community Project Center, focusing their energies on eliminating the use of bottled water on WPI’s campus.

“The process of making the bottles, bottling the water, and then shipping the bottles is very expensive and environmentally unfriendly,” says Rallis. “Many people think that bottled water is safer to drink than tap water, but regulations on tap water are actually stricter. Some bottled water is even taken from a tap water source.”

In fact, 44 percent of all bottled water originates as tap water, a statistic found in the team’s report, “Think Outside the Bottle at WPI: A Transition to Tap Water.” To spread awareness on the WPI campus of the superior quality of tap water and to reduce the sale of bottled water, the team maintains a Facebook page dedicated to the cause, posts facts about bottled water at every water fountain, holds Tap Water Challenges, and has even hosted a Think Outside the Bottle Concert.

As the demand for tap water on the WPI campus rose, the team made it their mission to gain funding for new filling stations, Rallis says, so they sought assistance from Student Government Association treasurer Alex Hyman.

“SGA always looks for new projects that improve the quality of undergraduate student life,” says Hyman. “After contacting Roger Griffin [associate director of mechanical operations], we learned that it was a very practical project that could enhance our campus for students by making it more sustainable.”

Through the Student Social Fee, the SGA was able to fund approximately $20,000 for the project. Each year, students pay a $260 Social Fee as part of their tuition, which is allocated to the SGA to disperse to clubs, groups, and organizations benefiting the undergraduate student body. The funding will cover the cost of the seven filling stations as well as all installation fees. Hyman expects the hydration stations will be installed by mid-September.

When asked if he actively supports Rallis and his team in their efforts to use tap water instead of bottled water, Hyman notes he always has a WPI reusable water bottle with him.

“I’m excited for the new stations to be installed so I can fill up my bottle in either of the two buildings that I typically spend the most time in,” he says.

Hyman urges any students or organizations who have ideas for campus improvement projects to get in touch with him at sgatreasurer@wpi.edu

-Kelsey Keogh