Hydration station examination
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UNLV Sustainability Coordinator conducts blind water taste tests
Hydration Stations are popping up all over the UNLV campus, providing free filtered water for students and replacing some drinking fountains.
Tara Pike, sustainability coordinator and recycling manager at UNLV, has been conducting water taste tests on campus to see if students can tell the difference between filtered water from the hydration stations and water from the tap or a name brand distributor.
Participants taste four different kinds of water including tap water, hydration station filtered water, Dasani and Aquafina.
After tasting, participants are asked to rank the water based on which water they prefer the most, and the one they least prefer. A survey gauging attitudes about the environment as well as consumption habits was also conducted.
“I wanted to set these taste tests up to let people know about the hydration stations,” Pike said. “It lets them know that filtered water pretty much tastes the same as the bottled water.”
Pike said students today have grown up on bottled water and many are afraid to drink tap water. She said the taste tests show that many students cannot tell the difference between tap water and bottled water.
“Water is water,” Pike said. “It’s not like the Pepsi Challenge where you can tell the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It’s just water.”
Pike said the hydration stations use a Brita filtration system that dispenses cold, filtered water that is free of impurities. She said the tap water in Las Vegas is safe, but it has a harsh taste and can be unpleasant to drink.
Any student can walk up to the station and fill up their container of water for free, which Pike claims will help UNLV reduce waste.
“I have a very big passion for reduce, reuse, refill,” Pike said. “This is a reduce thing.”
Pike stated that only 12 percent of bottled water containers are recycled. She said reducing and reusing are far more important than recycling and encourages students to refill with their own containers.
Bottled water is usually considered safe by consumers, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is in charge of regulating bottled water, there are some potential risks because bottled water does not undergo the same testing and reporting as tap water.
The FDA recommends that consumers who have compromised immune systems thoroughly read bottled water labels to make sure that the appropriate water treatment has been used, such as reverse osmosis, distillation or filtration using an absolute one micro filter.
Robert Cochrane, graduate assistant at UNLV, said he thinks the hydration stations are a good idea and said reusing is the best the way to go.
“I bring a sport bottle everywhere I go just to reduce my use of plastic bottles,” Cochrane said. “I think it’s wonderful to be able to get good, clean fresh water.”
Hydration Stations are located in Beam Hall, Ham Fine Arts Building, the Campus Services Complex and the Shadow Lane Campus.
New stations are expected to arrive soon in the Student Union, the Recreation and Wellness Center, Classroom Building Complex, Carlson Education Building, William Boyd School of Law, the Lied Athletic Complex, the Cottage Grove parking structure and the first and second floors of Lied Library.
There are also plans to install hydration stations in the Tonopah and Dayton residence halls.
Contact Kendle Walters at email@example.com