- What about other beverages?
- Why not get rid of all the other bottles?
- Is the tap water really safe?
- Will I get busted if I bring bottled water to campus?
- What bottle fillers are installed on campus?
- How do I request that a new fountain or bottle filler be installed on campus
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.
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.
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.
How about drinking fountains?
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. You can find drinking fountains in public buildings, including hospitals, for this reason.
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.
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.
What bottle fillers have been 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 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.
How do I request that a new fountain or bottle filler be installed on campus?
Departments can put in a request using the workorder system, FAMIS, available online here. Physical Plant staff can help explain who pays for what. Individuals can write to firstname.lastname@example.org to make suggestions, and the Office of Sustainability staff will help figure out what's possible.
How were locations for fillers chosen in 2013-14?
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. 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.
What was the financial impact on the University of changing the beverage system?
The decision to end the exclusive corporate sponsorship arrangement for beverages and to eliminate the sales of bottled water is not likely to save the University money, but students faculty and staff 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) was offset by the separate contract that Athletics negotiated 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 was less than one fifth of one percent of the financial aid funding, and the administration has found other sources.
Why do the water fountains have chillers and not filters?
Chilled water tastes better than water that is not chilled. The amount of electricity needed for chillers is relatively small. Filtered water also tastes better, but filters require changing on a regular basis, or they can get clogged and make for poor water quality. Because of this risk, and because of the cost of labor and materials involved with installing filters on water fountains, the decision was made not to install filters on water fountains. Departments that want to have filtered water can purchase pitchers and filters, and take responsibility for changing the filters on as recommended by the manufacturer. Alternatively, departments can contract with a company to provide water filtration service, thereby taking responsibility for the cost and the regular replacement of filters.