Editor's note: Due to concerns from the Haws Corporation, which has trademarked the phrase "Hydration Station," this story has been edited to remove those two words as they appear back to back.
A new water-filling station at the main visitor center for Lake Mead National Recreation Area has been in service for six months, and in addition to reducing the use of disposable plastic water bottles, use of the filtered water is proving popular with visitors. Since it's installation, the station has been used to fill 13,600 water bottles.
You'd expect to find a drinking fountain at any park visitor center'especially one in the desert'and this filling station does that job nicely, plus a little more. It works just like a standard drinking fountain but also has a shelf for easy filling of water bottles. A sensor initiates the water fill, and every time a bottle is filled, that action is automatically counted and displayed on the station.
'Word is getting around that this is the place to stop and refill your water bottle, which with the heat and everything else, that's a really good message to have,' said Michelle Riter, a Lake Mead NRA district interpreter.
Riter said installation of the water-filling station at the Alan Bible Visitor Center is part of the Lake Mead NRA's Climate Friendly Parks action plan to cut down on plastic water bottle waste. This plan includes initiatives to increase visitor use of refillable water bottles, increase number of filling stations in the park and collaborate with the visitor center store to sell less expensive refillable water bottles.
Once the water-refilling station was installed, Riter said they stopped selling bottled water at the visitor center store and began selling more varieties of refillable water bottles. She said the least expensive water bottle is only $2.99 and has the Lake Mead NRA logo on it along with facts about the park.
The Vanlue family, from O'Fallon, Mo., visited the store in early August, purchased a refillable water bottle and filled it at the station. After Jacob, 17, filled up his bottle, his mom, Barbara, said she was thankful for the station and the reduction of plastic water bottle waste in landfills.
It's not just popular with families and individual visitors. Gabriel Kelsey-Yoder, Western National Parks Association (WNPA) bookstore manager, said large tour groups often stop by the visitor center and have been receptive to purchasing and using the refillable water bottles. She said she has seen campground users come to refill their water bottles at the refilling station as well because they prefer the cold, filtered water.
Park visitors, especially local hikers and bicyclists who use the trails, have been spreading the news about the new refilling station by word of mouth and through social media, Riter added. They are excited to see how many water bottles have been refilled and want refilling stations to be installed in other areas of the park.
Funding for the refilling station was provided by the WNPA. The Alan Bible Visitor Center is located just of US 93 between Boulder City, Nevada, and Hoover Dam.