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FAQs on Bottled Water


  1. What about other canned and bottled beverages?
    Bottled and canned beverages that are not defined as flat, flavorless bottled water may continue to be sold on campus. This includes flavored water, seltzer, soda, tea, juice, sports drinks, milk and other beverages.
  2. Why not get rid of all the other bottles?
    Because the focus is on drinking water rather than on consumer items. In making this decision the University is continuing to invest in using our own drinking water rather than importing water from elsewhere to meet our community's daily need for hydration. Bottled water may still be used in emergencies.

  3. Is Smartwater going to be sold? It contains electrolytes.
    No, Smartwater is flat and flavorless, and therefore fits into the same category as other bottled water. Carbonated and flavored water will continue to be sold.
  4. Is the tap water really safe? How about drinking fountains?

    Yes, the tap water is safe. According to city officials, there have been no reports of concern about lead or copper, the most common contaminants, in all of the random and scheduled tests conducted since the water treatment plant changed the treatment method to inhibit the lead and copper in old pipes from getting into the tap water. If you are concerned about a particular building on campus, Risk Management can conduct water quality tests. Please use the request form to ask for a test.

    Yes, drinking fountains are safe. Despite advertising to the contrary by the bottled water industry, public health officials continue to have confidence in the design of drinking fountains to provide safe hydration, and in fact drinking fountains are required in public buildings, including hospitals, as part of the building code.
  5. Will I get busted if I bring bottled water to campus?

    No. There will be no bottled water police. The decision is for the University to stop providing it and end sales on campus, not enforce a ban from campus. If you bring bottled water to campus, please recycle the bottle when finished.
  6. Can I buy bottled water on a departmental budget??

    No, with few exceptions. 
    Faculty and staff may buy bottled water on a departmental budget when traveling outside Vermont. Departments that do not have access to drinking water may be granted exceptions while they await installation of the necessary plumbing.
    Please use the Water Fountains/Refill Station Request Form on the left menu, and the Office of Sustainability will facilitate communications about exceptions.
  7. What bottle fillers are being installed on campus?

    A variety of fillers. The decision was to allocate $100,000 to retrofit existing fountains, rather than buy new ones. It can cost as little as $150 to add a bottle filler, rather than $1000 or more for a new filling station or fountain.  The process of upgrading the fountains is by no means simple. It's less expensive in the long run to upgrade what we have, but requires problemsolving -- the frugal yankee approach.  That decision is already proving to be a good one: we've noticed that a new bottle filling unit that is being installed widely at other institutions has fundamental design problems with discoloration and being difficult to clean. We are also concerned about fillers that run on sensors: when the sensors fail, they fail ON, causing risk of flooding. Flooding can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.
  8. How are locations for fillers being chosen?
    Locations where there are fillers now were chosen to serve busy locations on campus, with a goal of having at least one filling station per major building. The upgrades have continued. As of December 2012 about $29,000 had been spent. Initially the ideas came from plumbers and custodians who noticed people trying to fill their bottles on fountains without fillers. Suggestions have come informally from staff and students. In fall 2013 the CDAE 250 class conducted of 980 surveys of students on campus, which included suggestions for fountain upgrades. A portable filling station was purchased for outdoor events such as graduation. 
  9. What is the financial impact on the University of the new beverage system?
    The decision to end the corporate sponsorship arrangement and the sales of bottled water is not likely to save the University money, but students will be able to save money by having better access to chilled drinking water for which they do not have to pay.The University received about $482,000 annually for the ten-year contract that ended 6/30/2012. The portion of the current funding that went to Athletics ($108,000 of the $482,000) will likely be offset by the separate contract that Athletics will negotiate with a vendor. About $157,000 of the $482,000 from the contract went to student financial aid as compared to the University's $95 million total general fund support for financial aid. The revenue from the new contracts will be also be directed to student financial aid. The net effect to financial aid of the expiration of the contract is less than one percent of the financial aid funding, and the administration has found other sources.