Terps Heart the Tap
The purchase and consumption of purified or filtered water in plastic bottles has become an issue of concern on university campuses, in public restaurants, by government agencies, and by the public, at large; and this concern is especially strong where potable, public water supplies are available. Bottled water has become a touchstone issue related to sustainability practices globally since it focuses on the nature of water for human consumption and whether it should be provided as a high-priced, economic commodity or as a cheaper, publicly provided essential substance for which there is no substitute. One way to create a green campus culture is to address bottled water usage at UMD.
Student campaigns and a state policy banning the spending of state funds on bottled water both sparked interest in the project. Through the Terps the Tap project, dozens of filtered water filling stations have been installed on campus, encouraging the campus community to reuse and refill, instead of consuming single-use bottled water. The project was completed with a grant from the University Sustainability Fund. Make the sustainable choice to refill your bottle!
History of Terps the Tap and Campus Bottle Filling Stations
In spring 2011, undergraduate students proposed that the University Sustainability Council work toward reducing bottled water consumption on campus. Recognizing the issues and environmental impact related to bottle water, the Sustainability Council created a Bottled Water Committee. Made of students, faculty, and staff representing many areas of campus, the Committee spent the 2011-2012 year examining the issue, surveying campus, and discussing options. They eventually presented recommendations to the Sustainability council, one of which was to install bottle filling stations on campus.
Following this recommendation, the Sustainability Council established a Water Filling Station Work Group which began meeting in fall 2012. Representatives from the student body, Facilities Management, Residential Facilities, Campus Recreation, CSPAC, the Office of Sustainability, and the campus libraries quickly reached an agreement on which filling stations would best fit the campus needs. Locations of the filling stations were determined from a Bottle Water Survey distributed by the Bottled Water Committee, Building Usage Data from the Office of the Registrar, student input, and building occupant input. Phone interviews with other institutions who had installed filling stations also helped inform the work group’s decisions.
The Water Filling Station Work Group absorbed a previous student-proposed Sustainability Fund grant project, Hydrate UMD. Hydrate UMD similarly sought to install filling stations on campus, but the Water Filling Station Work Group approached the project with a larger scope. As a Sustainability Fund proposal, the work group secured funding to install 64 filling stations across campus: in residential, academic, and administrative buildings. In 2014, the Water Filling Station Work Group again secured support from the Sustainability Fund to install 38 additional stations.
To date, the Work Group has installed 102 bottle filling stations across campus. Facilities Management, Residential Facilities, University Recreation & Wellness, and others have installed additional filling stations.