New device puts better water on tap at UBC Okanagan

New device puts better water on tap at UBC Okanagan

First-year student Sara Embury fills her water bottle between classes at the recently installed water kiosk in the Science Building at UBC Okanagan.

Students partner with university on low-energy water purifying system

A new water dispensing system that converts ordinary tap water into cleaner, cold, mineral-rich water at the pull of a lever has been installed at UBC Okanagan.

The innovative water kiosk -- the first of its type to be installed anywhere – has been acquired through a partnership between the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) and UBC Okanagan Facilities, who split the $10,000 cost.

“The machine is cutting-edge,” says Rob Nagai, general manager of the UBCSUO. “It’s not reverse-osmosis water, which means it doesn’t strip the nutrients from the water in the purification process.”

The visible part of the system is a simple spigot located in the main entrance of the Sciences Building. Behind the scenes, however, there’s some high-tech filtering through a PENTEK FreshPoint Ultrafiltration System designed to improve water quality while preserving naturally occurring minerals. The system is extremely energy-efficient, requiring only minimal power to operate as it provides quality water free-of-charge to students, staff and faculty.

“Students on campus have such a high awareness for the importance of water,” says Roger Bizzotto, UBC Okanagan facilities manager. “It frequently appears as a number-one concern on surveys. The fact that the students’ union wanted to partner on bringing in the water dispensing unit shows how dedicated our students are to the initiative.”

A recent online survey of Canadian campuses, conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, found water fountains at many universities are becoming scarce. The survey, which collected information from 84 respondents, from 48 post-secondary institutions across the country, noted that 33 per cent of respondents saw a reduction of drinking fountains on campuses.

This is not the case at UBC Okanagan, Bizzotto notes. In addition to its new water kiosk, each non-residence water fountain on campus has been equipped with a granular activated-carbon water filter to improve the taste of campus water and encourage the use of non-bottled drinking water.

“UBC Okanagan has made it a priority to provide free and clean water to its students and faculty,” says Bizzotto. “It offers people an alternative to purchasing plastic water bottles, reduces our carbon footprint and fits in with the University’s vision of a sustainable campus.”

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