Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to reducing water consumption and promoting the efficient use of water among faculty, staff and students.
Less than 3% of the water on Earth is fresh water yet we continue to waste and pollute it at an alarming rate. Water is polluted by industries, city run-off, agricultural practices, and consumer products, all of which are diminishing biodiversity and natural water supplies.
There are 20 filtered elkay waterfill stations at Laurier, 12 in Waterloo, 1 in Kitchener, and 7 in Brantford. The majority of units have a fountain (filtered) attached to the reusable water bottle fill as well. The units count the amount of plastic bottled water bottles saved.
Portable Waterfilz Station
Physical Resources now facilitates the use of a moveable water fill station that can be used for events. The station can be used for free - there will be a small cost for grounds to move and hook it up to the desired location on campus.
The garden area adjacent to MacDonald House Residence houses a 10,000 gallon water cistern to collect rain/storm water that will service the campus grounds. This project exhibits pollinating and native plant species to attract butterflies. The cistern will eliminate the need for sourcing water through the City of Waterloo for landscaping maintenance and has resolved flooding issues.
'Smart about Salt' Program
All ground staff have gone through the program and 4 are certified. Ecosalt and the Jet Blue are used for entrances,
and some steps. We also have a brine solution we use for certain snow
events that is applied with a sprayer. Brines and other winter maintenance liquids are used to prevent
the ice/pavement bond from forming.
Each snow event is different and there are many factors that go into the decisions we make with regards to plowing and ice melting material.
Bottle-free Water Coolers
Your department can save money but keep the same great tasting water by switching to a more sustainable bottle-free water cooler. Departments across campus are doing it. Find out how!
While bottled water is the cause of incredible amounts of pollution, and has both financial and health costs to consumers, it continues to be a multi-billion dollar industry. The following chart compares several aspects of bottled water to tap water:
|Consideration||Bottled Water||Tap Water|
|Financial Cost||Approximately $2 per litre (often more than a litre of gasoline).||$0.00105 per litre.|
|Mandatory/Regulatory Inspection||Once every 3-5 years. (not always possible due to shortage of certified water inspectors)||Several times daily.|
|Contamination and Health Concerns||49 bottled water products have been recalled in Canada since 2000 for safety concerns. Concentrations of arsenic, mercury, bromide, e. coli bacteria, and lead have been found in certain samples.
||Regular inspection works to prevent harmful contamination of water supplies, any issues can be confronted quickly and efficiently, and those in the area can be easily notified.
|Source||25% of bottled water in Canada is simply bottled tap water.
||A consistent, regulated, local water supply.|
|Taste||Bottled water absorbs non-digestible plastic particles overtime, taking on the flavour of the bottle.
||Tap water taste varies slightly, depending on the amount of harmless local minerals in the water supply.|
|Non-Biodegradable Plastic Waste||Over 235,000 tons in Canada alone, each year.||None as tap water is distributed via permanent infrastructure.|
|Water Waste||Approximately one bottle worth of water is wasted per bottle sold.||Minimal if any, as tap water is distributed and recollected in a closed loop system.|
|Transportation||Container ships and trucks transport bottled water (often over thousands of kilometres), emitting greenhouse gasses.||Water remains within a local watershed and is delivered very efficiently.|
|Amount you pay for advertising|| 10% - 15%
The bottled water industry uses fear mongering techniques to promote bottled water over tap water.
|Some municipalities use minimal amounts of tax payer dollars to develop educational campaigns around the importance of supporting public tap water.
|Profit Margin for Company||35%
The bottled water industry is made up of for-profit companies. A for-profit model cuts water service to low income residents who cannot afford water.
Tap water is a government service made available to all residents of every income class.
For more information on bottled water, see:
- Polaris Institute fact sheets on bottle water and its impacts on the environment and health, and its economic and social aspects.
- Watch The Story of Bottled Water (Video)
November 2013 marked the launch of WLU's multi-campus plastic water bottle phaseout plan, initiated by the university's student environmental advocacy group, the EcoHawks. In collaboration with partners across the university, including the Students' Union, Sustainability Office, Food Services and Student Services, the plan facilitates the phasing out of plastic bottles from sale on Laurier campuses. It does not restrict students from bringing their own bottled water to campus, and only phases out plastic bottled water (pop and juice are still sold). For more information on the plan, read it here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
World Water Day
The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Every year, UN-Water chooses a theme for World Water Day. In 2010, the theme Communicating Water Quality Challenges and Opportunities was chosen to raise the profile of water quality at the political level so that water quality considerations are made alongside those of water quantity.
Laurier World Water Day celebration: The purpose of the event was to highlight the research being conducted on water by faculty and students, and to educate and raise awareness about water issues amongst the Laurier Community. The day included:
- Community booths such as the City of Waterloo Water Services, the Wellington Water Watchers, and the Grand River Conservation Authority.
- Water tasting table: learning about the bottled water industry vs. public tap water.
- Yellow Fish Road Activity: painting yellow fish on pavement by storm drains as a reminder that what goes down the drain gets into our water system.
- A speaker series featuring talks by graduate students and their water research.
To view more photos from this event, view the Gallery here.