Lyanne Rodriguez

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Students have been reporting an unusual taste in the hydration station water that could be caused by hard water from the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, according to UTSA Facilities.

Financed by the Green Fund, an organization dedicated to making the campus more sustainable and supported by a $5  fee included in student tuitions, hydration stations are an environmentally friendly alternative to water fountains and are intended to reduce students’ carbon footprints. By allowing students to refill water bottles rather than repeatedly purchasing plastic bottles that are harmful to the environment, hydration stations are an eco-friendlysolution to drinking water.

Dr. Afamia Elnakat, professor of environmental science, sees the hydration stations as a great investment for UTSA that also encourages social interaction. “I see students using them all the time and, as an environmental engineer, it is an opportunity to see less plastic bottles used on our campus. More so, I have seen students, faculty and staff from different departments interact while waiting to fill their bottles.”

Elnakat was the faculty advisor of the no-longer-active student organization, “The Movement,” which brought hydration

stations to UTSA under the leadership of former student Travis Jourdan.

While hydration stations are intended to reduce the use of plastic bottles, they simultaneously reduce tuition.

“Water fountains sometimes drip; they are faulty,”  Chair of the Green Fund Committee, Ashley Pollock said.

“They are just old most of the time. The hydration stations ensure that the water is actually being drunk by a person, which decreases the water bill, which decreases our student fees.”

Pollock was pleasantly surprised with the plans to install a new hydration station in the Center of Professional Excellence in the Business Building.

“It was a success for us [the Green Fund] because, in the business world, being sustainable is kind of a hard concept to push towards, so for them to have come to us asking for the funding made us excited that they are instilling that type of knowledge in their students.”

While the hydration stations have environmental and economic benefits, many students have reported that the water from the hydration stations tastes unusual.

“The water tastes odd, like it’s stale,” says Karly Wilkinson, a senior sociology major. “It kind of makes you wonder how often they are cleaned.”

Assistant Director of Facilities Customer Services Scott Reuter, said, “When they were initially installed, we cleaned the hydration stations as needed, oftentimwes daily.  However, due to the hard water and mineral deposits that occur naturally in San Antonio’s water supply, we are transitioning to a daily maintenance plan.” Reuter also stated that the hydration stations are sanitized using an all-purpose cleaner and “have antimicrobial protection on key components to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.” Maintenance additionally performs a bi-annual general inspection of the hydration stations during which the filters are changed.

In a recent inspection, Reuter said that facilities noticed some deposit buildup in the drain basins of some units that could cause an odor. Facilities is, however, “looking at an eco-friendly product to prevent the buildup of deposits and eliminate potential odors that may result from the buildup.”

Students can submit service requests if they believe a station needs maintenance; the stations have the UTSA facilities number, (210) 458-4260, posted on them in case a student does have a complaint.

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