Water refill stations help reduce waste


Trennt Rhea

A student fills up their water bottles at the water filling stations located on campus.

Trennt Rhea, Contributing Writer

Brookhaven Campus has been doing its part to help prevent plastic waste. Single-use plastic is being avoided in a simple yet helpful way from a combined effort by students, faculty and staff through the use of water filling stations.

Brookhaven has been using water filling stations since the early 2000s. Jason Walthers, Brookhaven Campus maintenance technician, said the first one was installed in H Building.

Brookhaven currently has 23 water filling stations, located around campus, with the exception of P Building.

Most filling stations are integrated into the existing water fountains. The stations will fill bottles up to 32 ounces. For every 20 ounces filled, the water filling station counts one single-use plastic bottle saved. By using the water filling stations, Brookhaveans have helped save over 341,640 and counting single-use plastic water bottles since the first station was installed in H Building.

Maintenance is also simple for the stations. “Every 364 days you have to change the filter,” Walthers said. The filter status is indicated by a light at the top of each water filling station. Filters are changed once the indicator shows a red light. 

Walthers said the location of the water filling stations depends on traffic. “A Building like X Building needs more filling stations because there are three floors,” he said.

The water filling stations have also been a useful tool during COVID-19. “During the pandemic, nobody used any of the regular drinking fountains,” he said. “They did not want to touch them or go near them. The only thing that got used were the filling stations.” 

One of the safest places to drink water is from a water filling station because there are no touch points, Walther said. “It’s infrared,” he said. “It’s zero touch, and no one puts their mouths on it. It is safe and clean and the only option for water fountains when there is a pandemic.”

The average American uses and throws away 110 pounds of single-use plastic every year, according to The New York Times. Based on the current population, Americans are throwing away over 300 million pounds of single-use plastics every year. By using the water filling stations, Brookhaveans are doing their part to eliminate waste.

Walthers personally installed seven of the stations on campus. He said, “Anything is better than nothing, and to give someone an option definitely is effective in terms of reducing single-use plastic.”