By: Cathy McCabe -STAFF WRITER
“It’s something that everyone requires every day.” The sustainability committee has declared February Water Month here with the hope of getting students to think about their water consumption.
Gina Pannunzio, the sustainability engagement assistant, says, “We’re hoping that we can use this month as an opportunity to inform people and remind people that [water] is a large issue and it’s a current issue and it will always be an issue.” She says the committee is planning a tap versus bottled water campaign and will have booths set up in the halls sporadically this month. Bottled water will be brought, the labels taken off and the committee will see if students can tell the difference between them and tap water.
Pannunzio says this campaign will allow them to explain to students why there is a ban on bottled water at the college’s campuses.
Pannunzio references the United Nations’ Resolution 64/292 saying that access to clean drinking water is a human right.
“By making it available for everyone on campus — they’re not paying for it — it’s supporting that human right.” Pannunzio says, “You can’t just ban the sale of water bottles, you have to have an alternative on campus, so we’ve installed the hydration stations.”
She says by using the hydration stations, the college saved recycling 150,000 bottles last year. She also says that using water bottles is wasteful. “Every time you have not even two cups of water, you’re throwing away one-third [of a cup] of water in the form of plastic.”
Pannunzio says many companies that bottle water are not from Ontario, so they have varying standards for drinking water and different legislation. “They are just using tap water from their own location.”
Pannunzio says another water project here was the installation of the Lotus pro high capacity chemical-free cleaning systems.
“It takes municipal water and it will ozonate it, so you can use that water for cleaning, so we’re not using harsh chemicals and putting them down the drain.” Taryn Wilkinson, the sustainability co-ordinator, says the system “adds an extra ‘O’ [oxygen] molecule. It goes from O2 to O3 and then after eight to 12 hours, converts back to water.” She says, “We use more water on campus [because of this system], but we’re saving our local water sources from being exposed to harsh chemicals.”
Other projects the sustainability committee has also been involved in are the Great Canadian Shoreline cleanup in September and retrofitting all of the showerheads in residence. The committee also has a water challenge for students this month. Pannunzio says students should look at how much water they use and “come up with a few ways you can reduce your water footprint whether it’s at work, on campus or at home.”
Pannunzio says, “There are so many things you can do to help the quality of water,” adding that one way is to turn off the water when brushing your teeth. “Conservation is the best way to start protecting our water resources.”