The main purposes of the water filters installed with filling stations around campus last semester are sustainability and flavor, according to Director of University Relations Joe Lang.
In the fall semester of 2011, Biology Professor Deke Gundersen and his Introduction to Environmental Science class conducted two tests on the water in Clark Hall. These tests put rumors of lead to rest but raised questions about the efficacy of the new filters the university had installed during the previous semester.
“The primary reasons for filtration are a combination of student convenience and a move away from the consumption of plastic bottles,” said Lang.
Students pushed the Drink Local, Drink Tap movement which ended food service company ARAMARK’s sale of many bottled waters on the Forest Grove campus and prompted the university’s investment in filling stations during the 2010-2011 academic year.
The many stations scattered across campus have been used extensively, but in a world of picky water drinkers, much of their success comes from flavor.
Filters remove the hints of unpleasant flavors that come from hard water minerals or manmade reservoirs that many individuals dislike. This bias is often the reason students opt to spend their hard-earned dollars on bottled water.
“Most tap water comes from municipal sources rather than springs,” said Lang, “so taste is a driving factor in student consumption.”
The filling stations around campus offer water that is both filtered and chilled for a more appealing flavor. Check with a blind taste test for proof.
Regarding the trace amounts of lead found, Lang offered the reminder that when taps aren’t used often, the water in the pipes flowing to them grows stagnant and may come out a slightly rusty color when initially reopened.
“Even though lead levels are well below the EPA standards,” said Lang, “constant use of the tap and flow of the water ensures the levels are likely to be reduced even further.”