Maintenance & Operations

BYOB (bottle)

School bottle filling stationsThe Environmental Protection Agency has recently released a drinking water action plan. This plan focuses on six strategic priority areas with one area emphasizing the improvement of transparency, public education, and risk communications concerning drinking water safety. There continues to be much debate over the quality of drinking water across the United States. EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, recently stated, “Ensuring that all Americans have access to safe drinking water is an absolute top priority for the EPA.” There is no better place to start than within our schools making sure that all students and staff have the best resources for safe drinking water.

Bottle filling stations in schools is an excellent way to promote healthy habits for students, drinking water safety, and sustainability. Water filling stations have become very common across the country especially at higher education campuses. One good example of this is New Mexico State University where over 30 refillable water bottle stations have been established on their campus. The use of a filtered water bottle filling system promotes awareness and can allow for students at all levels to reuse their own personal water bottle.

Adequate water intake for students is important for everyday health. Many of our students are consuming sugary juices and sodas instead of drinking an adequate amount of water each day. Schools across the country can encourage student and staff water consumption by establishing water filling stations. Elkay commercial products promote a reasonably affordable water bottle retrofit system for most of their existing Elkay water fountains. As healthy school environments continue to be a focus in public schools, what an excellent time to use water consumption as a learning tool for students.

Many localities and school divisions have been asked to demonstrate their ability to provide safe drinking water. Lead and other contaminates should be a concern in our schools water supply. A filtered system that enhances the extraction of these elements is an asset. Having the safest possible water is essential to student health and has some correlation to student learning. The filtered water bottle stations are fairly easy to maintain and the filters tend to be very affordable and only need to be changed around every 3,000 gallons of consumption.

Bottled water has also become a significant resource for students in many schools. Students and staff have a reoccurring cost to purchase water at school. In the promotion of green school best practices, the amount of plastic bottles thrown away and that are accounted for should be a concern for the environment and sustainability efforts. A filtered water bottle filling station eliminates the need for all of the plastic water bottles consumed and then discarded. Schools can be proactive and design their own refillable water bottles that can incorporate the school logo. What a great way to promote school spirit and healthy school environments.

Filtered water bottle filling stations offer an excellent resource to enhance student and staff wellness. Healthy and safe water continues to be a concern for all students and staff. The Elkay water bottle retrofit product is only one example that helps promote safe and healthy drinking water. Advocating safe and healthy environments in schools is essential to the well-being of our children.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

John A. Bailey, Ph.D. is the director of School Plants for Chesapeake Public Schools and a National School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Virginia, and a Virginia School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Region II, in Virginia.

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