New water filling station brought to Decatur

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Lydia Woodley, Ads Manager

Stephen Decatur High School joins the wave of schools trying to further promote health for its students and staff. The school is doing this by introducing a new water filling station in the hallways for easier access to fresh and clean water. Brenda Hommel, Decatur’s Health and Wellness Coordinator began this project as part of the Health and Wellness Goals in the 2018-2019 school year for Decatur. 

The idea originated from her own struggle to find worry-free water in the school when she forgets to bring water from home. If she wanted to be assured that the water she was drinking was safe, she would have to pay for a drink at the vending machinewhere most students would reach for an unhealthy drink instead.  

Hommel states, “My hope is that students and faculty will now have fresh, clean water available to them throughout the school day. It would be great to see a decrease in the sales of sugary drinks from vending machines.” 

Sugary drinks, like some in the vending machines, contribute to childhood obesity, which currently impacts one out of five children according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Ian Zoundi, an author for becausewater.com, says that when students only feel comfortable drinking out of the vending machine, they are enforcing unhealthy habits. By installing a free and safe water filling stationstudents will be able to create new healthy habits.  

After being approached by Hommel, Principal Sites, excited by the idea of a water filling station, gave his support and extended the project to include faculty and students. Sites has heard complaints from students about the pre-existing water fountains. Even though they are filtered, he wants the students to feel at ease drinking water at the school. He also understands how expensive plastic water bottles are after having to buy packs of water bottles for his own children. Not every family can afford the luxury of continuously buying plastic water bottles. 

Along with promoting healthy habits, water filling stations help reduce waste and is cost effective for the students and staff. One Green Planet, a platform dedicated to educating people on how to make environmentally friendly choices, estimated that 80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in the dump. Furthermore, becausewater.com states, water bottles are 2,000 times more expensive than tap water. 

Hommel did a lot of research to find the fountain that would work best for the school. She contacted the local sales representative at Culligan, a company that sells water filling stations and treatment systems, to discuss different fountains. 

Culligan and the school negotiated a price until settling on a five-year lease and letting Culligan Water advertise next to the fountain. Payments will be made yearly for the water filling station. Tamara Mill, the county’s Health and Wellness Supervisor has helped coordinate the funding. In the long term,” Hommel states, “it would be nice to explore the possibility of retrofitting other drinking fountains in the school into water bottle coolers.” 

Since the school now has a water filling station there is no excuse for the students and staff to keep buying plastic bottles and instead use reusable containers.