Water bottle refill stations lack filtration systems

By Morgan Johnson, Contributing Writer —

Never fear, it’s only tap water: but for some, that may be the problem.

Recently, representatives from the Office of Sustainability have announced that the water bottle refill stations around campus do not contain filtration systems.

In the fall of 2015, the Student Government Association teamed up with the Office of Sustainability to install water bottle refill stations across campus. These stations can be found in many of the most visited buildings on campus such as the UC, Derthick Hall and the Library.

Many of the new refill stations have green, yellow and red lights that should be indicators for filter status. However, that is not the case for the water bottle stations at UTC. None of the water refill stations throughout campus have a filtration system inside of them.

“It’s the same water you would get out of your kitchen sink at home,” said Lisa Darger from the UTC Office of Sustainability.

Darger said that the light system changes color based on how many times the machine is used as it would if there were a filter inside of the unit.

“It’s programmed into the unit itself so after a certain amount of uses you know the light comes on to tell you to change your filter,” Darger said. “It’s kind of like the check engine light in your car after so many miles it comes on even if you just got your oil changed three days ago.”

Darger said that she believed the light system is unnecessary.

“I think that it could be considered false advertising or misleading,” Darger said. “It does make you think that there is a filter in there that is being changed and in truth, there is not.”

Donnie Hodge, the Superintendent of Maintenance and Operations, said he believes the purchase of water refill stations with light systems was an error that has led to much of confusion across campus.

Darger said that the sustainability office has tried to remedy the error by no longer purchasing water refill stations with light systems to keep students from assuming that the stations have filters inside of them.

The University and Chattanooga as a whole gets its water from the Tennessee American Water Company. Tennessee American Water filters the water in its facilities and the university does yearly testing as well to ensure the quality of the water according to Drager.

A’jacia Wash, the current Campus Observations chairperson for SGA, said she was informed that if the University wanted to implement secondary filters in each station the green fee would have to “increase exponentially”.

“I’m fine with it being just drinking water,” Wash said. “They said that they test everything like the Tennessee American Water Company does quality reports and stuff. My problem is that I think they just need to advertise it as a convenience and not as it being filtered water coming through the system.”

Darger said she recognizes that the false lighting system may potentially lead students to come to the wrong conclusion, but she encourages students to voice their opinion on the matter.

“The student green fee could potentially fund the filter purchase and then the labor to do it and I would not discourage students for pushing for that,” Darger said.

Alina Hunter-Grah

Alina Hunter-Grah

News Editor

Alina is a junior Communications major with a minor in Political Science from Clarksville, Tenn. Alina is also the official Chattanooga Correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville, Tenn. Alina dreams of being an investigative journalist or political reporter.

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