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

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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.

'œWord 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

Thanks for another good laugh.


I realize the intent is to dispense a lesson about plastic waste along with the water, but I can't help wondering how much more these 'hydration stations' cost than a conventional faucet, with a shelf and perhaps a poster? Maybe the NPS is not quite as underfunded as they like to claim?

Speaking of plumbing fixtures, will Lake Mead (NPS acronym: LAME) still be part of the National Park System after it dries up?

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/08/12/2439931/reservoir-billboards...


Maybe the NPS is not quite as underfunded as they like to claim?

Not to mention the loss of revenue to the Park System by not selling bottled water.


Did some research. It looks like a station similar to the one in the photo costs between $1400 and $1700.

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-com-97144.aspx

A standard drinking fountain with no frills is shown for $1076 on this site:

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-search-results.a...

Toss in a few bells and whistles and the cost becomes almost identical with the hydration stations:

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-search-results.a...

I was surprised to learn how much drinking fountains cost -- whether for NPS or your friendly doctor's office.


Did some research. It looks like a station similar to the one in the photo costs between $1400 and $1700.

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-com-97144.aspx

A standard drinking fountain with no frills is shown for $1076 on this site:

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-search-results.a...

Toss in a few bells and whistles and the cost becomes almost identical with the hydration stations:

http://www.elkayusa.com/cps/rde/xchg/elkay/hs.xsl/elkay-search-results.a...

I was surprised to learn how much drinking fountains cost -- whether for NPS or your friendly doctor's office.


A typical water station costs $1000. So, it is not "at any cost." It's pretty cheap, actually.

And, as mentioned here, rangers and maintenance people are picking up litter. Lots of it is disposable water bottles. I have had to pick them up on local trails because people are too lazy to carry them. We know, whether we all want to admit it or not, that people litter.

As to inconveniencing people, many laws and rules inconvenience people. Life sucks that way when you want to live in a civilized world. Just a few examples: speed limits, seat belts, having a smoke detector in your house. Yes, litter is not a matter of life and death but, the cost of litter is something we shouldn't have to bear (if it wasn't really a problem, the Adopt-A-Road Program wouldn't exist). If inconveniencing people was the ONLY reason not to implement something, there would be no laws nor rules. And to be honest, I find it very inconveient that I have to wait in line with others to try to get a bottle of water in the gift shop. I also find it very inconvenient that I have to deal with trash from others that are too lazy to find a trashcan or recycle bin.

Finally, it is significant in that potentially 13,618 disposable water bottles did not make it into a landfill. Yes, it may only be one. But that is a start. We have to start somewhere.


dahkotoa, many thanks for a refreshingly sensible comment.


dahkota - Of course "incovenience" shouldn't be the only factor. Just as stopping one bottle shouldn't. The issue is balance - cost/benefit. A speed limit is 65 not because that will prevent any accidents but because that it the speed at which we reach an acceptable trade off between safety and the convenience of getting somewhere fast. I personally don't think seat belts should be mandatory but one would be stupid not to use one. Ditto for smoke detectors. In my mind the benefits of seat belts and smoke detectors out weigh the inconvience but I don't believe I should force my personal judgements on others. If they want a water station -fine and those that want to use it can. I just see no value in preventing the sale of bottle water.

I think where we really differ is whether there really is a problem and whether this provides a solution. Yes, people litter. Is this a major problem in the Parks. In my experience it is less so there than outside the parks. Will this stop them from littering? Hardly. A much more effective solution would be a bottle deposit to encourage returns. The funds from unreturned bottles could be used for clean-up and disposal.

And so what if a bottle "didn't make it to a land fill"? Why do we have to "start somewhere"?


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