Hydration Stations abound around campus, soon at Pete

By Megan Trimble

Each day, students finishing their workouts at the Petersen Events Center struggle to refill…

Cyrille Froncek | Staff Photographer

Senior biology major John Flickinger refi lls his water bottle at the hydration station in the William Pitt Union lobby.

Each day, students finishing their workouts at the Petersen Events Center struggle to refill their water bottles at old-fashioned fountains — but not for long.

Hydration stations — which allow students to refill reusable water bottles by placing them in front of a sensor that triggers a stream of water to fall directly into the bottle — are installed in the William Pitt Union, O’Hara Student Center, Posvar Hall, Salk Hall, Sutherland Hall and Hillman Library.

“Pitt makes the decision on whether hydration stations are installed at the Petersen Events Center, and we will be installing hydration stations in a few locations, including near the fitness center, before the basketball season starts,” University spokesman John Fedele said.

While the administration has the final say as to where the stations are installed, the Green Fund, a group under the Student Government Board’s Environmental Committee that helps coordinate sustainability projects on campus, approached the administration and provided funding for the original station installed in the William Pitt Union in 2011.

SGB member Gordon Louderback said that it was ideal for the Environmental Committee to team up with the University on the project, as the price of multiple units — which each cost approximately $1,500, plus installation fees — would fall outside of the group’s spending power.

“We started it as an SGB initiative, but the University took it over as an incentive, which is great,” Louderback said. “[Pitt was] able to put them in high-traffic areas where students will be able to get a lot of use from them.”

Facilities Management has funded the other installations in conjunction with recent renovation projects around campus.

Fedele said that in addition to the most recently installed unit on the ground floor of the Hillman Library, four more units are scheduled for installation, and the University plans to place even more stations around campus.

“Housing is working with students to determine the demand for others,” Fedele said.

According to Rachel Meyer, SBG Environmental Committee chairwoman, that demand is growing.

“I actually just walked through the Union and I saw a line for the hydration station, which was exciting, because I hadn’t really seen that happen before,” Meyer said. “There didn’t used to be lines, but I think because we are getting more on campus that people are recognizing them — becoming more aware of their presence, and therefore, using them more.”

Meyer said the Environmental Committee originally met with Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey to begin the project.

“She asked where we would like to see [the stations] around campus. So we named off a few key locations and she continued to work with us to make it happen,” Meyer said. “Having more, in my opinion, will increase the use of all of them.”

Meyer said other students, such as engineering students, may notice the absences of stations in buildings such as Benedum Hall and want them installed in those areas, as well. The committee’s ultimate goal, Meyer said, would be a hydration station in each building across campus.

Fedele said that the installation time for each station depends on the complexity of the project. If a water fountain doesn’t initially exist at the proposed location, then more time is needed to make the proper arrangements.

Meyer said that the University can’t profit from the stations because they decrease water bottle sales. She also said the project is in place entirely for the students’ benefit. She said students should take advantage of the stations, which provide multiple benefits, including convenience and water at no cost.

Though Louderback and Meyer don’t know the exact statistics pertaining to the effect the stations have had on students’ reusable water bottle usage, both agree that the project has produced positive results.

“In terms of promoting reusable water bottles, I think it’s been huge,” Louderback said. “One of the coolest features that the stations have are ongoing tallies that give you a rough estimate on saved waste from disposable bottles.”

The original hydration station in the Union has helped to eliminate the waste from more than 13,500 disposable plastic bottles, according to the counter on the machine, and the later-installed unit in Posvar Hall has eliminated the waste from more than 1,800.

“Who knows, people may be more inclined to go and refill their water bottle, instead of heading over to a vending machine and grabbing an Aquafina,” Louderback said.