Students thirst for more water fountains on campus

“Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink. Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

For the doomed crew in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” this lack of drinking water is a harsh reality.

For the students and staff of Carmel High School, however, it would be hard to argue that we’re dying of dehydration here on campus, but, despite the five drinking fountains available, many students are not satisfied.

“I refuse to drink from the ones that aren’t filtered,” junior Zoë Patterson says, referring to the two fountains that—in addition to classic spouts—provide students with filtered and chilled water.

One of these dispensers, called Elkay EZH2O bottle fillers, is by the boys’ locker room, and the other is in the cafeteria.

Modern and sleek, these eco-friendly, stainless-steel additions are at the heart of student complaints—in a good way, though, as most students enjoy them but want modifications of the current configuration.

“The locations are fine right now,” senior Lennie Rodriguez suggests. “But to better our water situation and to settle all the controversy, add spigots onto already standing water fountains.”

Freshman Sarah Tuck speaks for many when she remarks, “[They’re] out of my way going to classes…. [We need more] just around campus in general areas, like outside of the amphitheater.”

What many students and staff don’t realize, however, is that the chilling and filtration they love so much actually limits the locations where EZH2O fillers can be implemented, since they require access to both water and electricity.

“You can’t just spring one up,” in the words of assistant principal Tom Parry.

The filtered fountains arrived on campus in 2011 as part of an Ocean Guardian School grant written by science teacher and Environmental Club advisor Jason Maas-Baldwin.

Installed for a total cost of $1400, the first fountain, paid for by the grant, became such a success that the district went ahead and purchased the second one independently.

Water Bottle Pic

Together, the two Elkay dispensers provide ample opportunity for students to stay hydrated throughout the day, and they make filling up one’s water bottle effortless and two times faster than at other fountains.

Furthermore, by using them, students are also saving tremendous amounts of plastic. As of Nov. 3, the fillers by the locker room and in the cafeteria have together prevented a total of 153,532 single-use plastic bottles from entering landfills, according to the digital counting screen.

Because of their popularity, plans are set for introducing two more EZH2O fillers once the new administration building is built. Demolition of the current office is scheduled to begin this summer, and when the new one is complete, it will feature an Elkay dispenser both inside and outside, according to Parry.

The fountain by the music room will also be replaced with an Elkay dispenser, making a total of six drinking fountains on campus, five of which will have filtered and chilled bottle-filling stations.

But when all is said and done, the district, which has also installed EZH2O fillers at Carmel Middle School, is offering a great and unusual service.

As Maas-Baldwin says, “It’s funny that people are complaining about it because it’s so unique that we even have them to begin with.”

–Michael Montgomery