New Water-Filling Station At Lake Mead National Recreation Area Helps Cut Disposable Plastic Water Bottle Use

Jacob Vanlue, 17, from O'Fallon, Missouri, fills his water bottle at the water refilling station at the Alan Bible Visitor Center at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. NPS photo.

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.

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A counter automatically records how many times the water bottle portion of the station has been used. NPS photo.

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.

Comments

Yup. It must be really rough to have stock in bottled water companies these days. ;-}

Yup, the bottled water industry is going to shrivel up and die any day now. LOL

Another record year.

http://www.bevnet.com/news/2013/u-s-bottled-water-sales-totaled-11-8-billion-in-2012

The three largest producers of bottle water are Coke, Pepsi and Dannon. All three stocks are at or near all time highs. Once again Lee, you showed that you just make things up.

... I think you guys are crazy-- arguing about saving plastic bottles???!!!LOL

Gutz--I don't think we are discussing "saving" water bottles. We are talking about reducing the number of them that go to landfills. That seems to me to be worth discussing.

Rick

I would expect an agency like the Park Service that is tasked with preserving our national resources (not exploiting them for business uses) to be at the forefront of these kinds of initiatives. Government initiatives often and purposefully inconvenience people with the purpose of promoting a partical behavior, in this case using re-usable bottles.

I applaud Lake Mead for taking the lead on this and I hope more parks do the same. I have used this particular brand of refill station at our gym and it works very nice for filling bottles. I can't say how many grimy bathroom sinks we refilled our bottles with luke warm water while at Yellowstone. They did have spickets as well in a few places, but they were also warm and wasted a lot of water.


Government initiatives often and purposefully inconvenience people with the purpose of promoting a partical behavior, in this case using re-usable bottles.


Which is a major source of our problems today. Other than to execute its designated powers, the federal government has no role in promoting or discouraging particular behavior.

Rick-- I should of phrased my comment a little better-- I agree with you about the water- station-- I think its a great idea. I meant it seems crazy argueing about if its a good idea or not. I know we saved at least a few dozen bottles from going into the land-fill last year when we visited the Tetons by refilling our bottles at the Moose visitor center-- my wife drinks more water then a camel when hiking!!. LOL

@ecbuck, which problems are those. The overwhelming landfills, the high number of Medicare patients suffering from emphysema, the nearly $1T spent fighting a hopeless war in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know, it is the massive amount of spending wasted on the national parks, we should privatize those, sell them off to investors, because the private sector always does a better cheaper job.

Seriously, no matter how you slice it, ending the sale of bottled water is a plus, whether you look at the social habits it enforces or the cost of disposing the bottles and cleaning up the litter.

On a separate note, why does this site disable spell checking in the comment box???


whether you look at the social habits it enforces or the cost of disposing the bottles and cleaning up the litter.


Why don't you worry about your social habits, and I will worry about mine. I don't need you telling me how to live my life. As to the "cost of disposing" or the "cleaning of litter" - this water station will have no measure impact on either.

(right click in the box and then right click "check spelling")

Pick any person at random who thinks this is a bad idea and dump 13,000 plastic bottles in their back yard. See if they think it is meaningless then.

[FYI - this is addressed at no one in particular, although so far there has only been one person who thinks this is a bad idea.]


Other than to execute its designated powers, the federal government has no role in promoting or discouraging particular behavior.


Actually, you are wrong. The government was created to promote the general welfare of its citizens. Which is why we have laws related to health, education, environment, etc. The US government has been legislating morality since it's inception.

Dahkota - you couldn't be more wrong. Our government was created to prevent the legislation of morality. Yes it was to promote the general welfare (note promote not provide) but the ways it could do so were specifically designated. Government couldn't do just anything. Modern involvment in health, education and some instances environment are total perversions of the orginal intent of the Constitution.

ec,

Your pursuit of happiness impares my pursuit of happiness Guess you don't see value in speed limits etc etc as because you could make anything a moral issue.


Guess you don't see value in speed limits


You guess wrong.

Hmmm. Prohibition, use of drugs, vaccines, education requirements, child labor laws, slavery, involuntary servitude, blue laws, marriage laws, import laws, tobacco laws, alcohol laws, etc.

It seems even the first congress got involved in legislating morality. So, whether you agree or not, the federal government does legislate "for the general welfare" and has been doing it for a little over 200 years.

Sorry to digress to a history lesson. The Constitution was formed to LIMIT the power of the federal government. During the period that the Constitution was being ratified, those opposed (the anti-federalists) were concerned that the general welfare clause would be interpreted as you suggest. Those for the Constitution - said nonsense. Not because they wanted the welfare clause to give willy nilly power to the government but because they believed it was clear that the powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution. You may recall the name James Madison - the man considered the father of the Constitution. Here are his words on the subject from Federalist Paper 41.

"For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars."

Congress certainly has since perverted the intent, but that doesn't change the intent.

As to the first Congress, please point me to their enactment of legislation re: " Prohibition, use of drugs, vaccines, education requirements, child labor laws, slavery, involuntary servitude, blue laws, marriage laws, import laws, tobacco laws, alcohol laws, etc." The closest you can come is the Whiskey Act which was a tax to raise revenue to pay debt, not an attempt to force someone's morals on someone else. Even at that, is was strongly resisted.

Ec, I am certainly no expert on any of this discussion regarding the US Constitution, but in my own limited knowledge, you do have a point. "The Constitution does not give us rights: it restrains government from infringing on rights we acquire at birth by virtue of being human beings, "natural rights that are held by natural persons". While Thomas Jefferson felt it important to add a bill of rights to the constitution, Alexander Hamilton spoke strongly against it. The discussion is fascinating, but Hamilton lost the day, Jefferson won, and we do have a Bill of Rights. And, as you pointed out, the only way, other than a supreme court decision, to make explicit "new" rights (such as health care), is through the process of amending the document. There are many examples of this, the 13th, 14th, 15th (the reconstruction amendments), the 16th, (feds right to tax), 17th (direct election of senators), 19th (women's right to vote), etc. Not sure what any of this has to do with NPS Traveler except to say I see your point, but simply do not agree. I am certainly not one who has any great expertise in this area.

rmackie - thank you for the concession on my point, but as you suggest this is getting well off the topic. Well worth discussing but perhaps not in this forum.

To me the real issue here is not the water station but the shutting down of sales of bottled water. Certainly it is in the power of the NPS to do so. The question is, does it make sense to do so i.e is there a real problem, will this action do anything to solve it and are there consequences that offset any benefits.

I am unconvinced that disposable water bottles are a problem. I certainly don't buy the waste of resources or landfill issues as plastic water bottles are a miniscule portion of either the use or disposal of these resources nor do I believe these resources are in jeopardy of exhaustion any time in the foreseeable future. I also don't believe banning sales in the park will have any real benefit, including raising awareness. If you want to raise awareness - put up a sign saying "do not litter" or charge a deposit fee. But eliminating 13,000 bottles (assuming that was actually accomplished) will have absolutely no effect even if there is a problem, which I don't believe there is.

Finally, there are consequences to these actions. Obviously, as reported elsewhere in NPT, water bottles are bought in the hundreds of thousands or even millions in national parks. Obviously the people that have made those purchases have made the decision it is preferable for them to buy at the park than to use a refillable bottle. You may not agree (I don't), but that is our choice and should not be forced on someone else. (This is perhaps the biggest disagreement I have with the folks here on this and many other issues) Secondly, selling bottled water in the parks makes money for the parks. And given the high volume and high margins, it likely makes far more than selling reusable bottles and giving water away free.

If banning sales had no downside, then maybe the "if it just saved one bottle" argument would fly. But it does have a downside and in my mind that downside far outweighs any tiny incremental benefit.


The US government has been legislating morality since it's inception.


Agreed, dahkota, insofar as the laws it enacts must conform to the Constitution, which is a "moral" document.