Acadia students lead ‘Back to the tap’ challenge
© Jennifer Hoegg
Water Watch Acadia coordinators Ali Vervaeke, Brynne Sinclair-Waters and Amy Buckland-Nicks toast a major achievement in their Back to the Tap campaign: K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre becoming the first bottled-water free building on campus.
BY JENNIFER HOEGG and WENDY ELLIOTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Water Watch Acadia celebrated a landmark achievement in their fight to bring the campus community “back to the tap.”
On the first National Bottled Water Free Day, the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre lived up to the day’s name. From March 11, no bottled water will be sold in the building - not from the building’s café, vending machine or at catered events.
Students, faculty and administration celebrated by signing a pledge to support Acadia becoming a bottled water free campus with pitchers of tap water, a ribbon cutting, speeches, anti-bottled water songs and an appearance by the Blue Warriors.
Water Watch coordinators Amy Buckland-Nicks, Brynne Sinclair-Waters and Ali Vervaeke say there are five big reasons not to drink bottled water: it’s more expensive than tap water, less regulated than municipal water, harder on the environment, part of a push to privatize water supplies and undermines worldwide access to safe drinking water.
Executive director Peter Romkey says the centre wanted to “take a step ahead” by being the first on campus to go bottle-free and is looking at innovative ways to provide water to visitors without plastic bottles.
With Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Acadia and the Ivan Curry School of Engineering, a water fountain designed for filling reusable containers will be installed in the building soon, with more to follow.
“We like to be on the leading edge, “ he added.
The Pepsi machine in the building’s basement has been emptied of bottled water. Acadia has an exclusive contract with Pepsi, Water Watch coordinator Amy Buckland-Nicks says, and the complexities of the agreement with the beverage giant is one of “the biggest challenges to work out.” Romkey spoke with Pepsi on the groups behalf and says the company “has been very supportive.”
“We’re lucky in Canada to have potable water from one side of the country to the other,” Romkey points out. “We’ve taken that water, put it in a bottle and shipped it around in a truck.
“It’s not necessary in Canada.”
All about water
World Water Day March 22 was an international awareness event about the state of water quality and availability. It is estimated 1.1 billion people are without access to safe drinking water.
Acadia University students are marking five days of awareness, until March 26, with a series of events organized by Water Watch Acadia.
“This is a culminating point for Water Watch Acadia's campaign to have Acadia become Bottled Water Free campus,” says Amy Buckland-Nicks of Water Watch, “and Acadia's Bottled Water Free-pledge will be available for signing at every event.”
Water Watch is partnering with SIFE Acadia in a campaign that seeks to have Acadia become the first bottled water-free small university in Canada, says Buckland-Nicks.
March 22, there was a toast to public water at the meal hall with live music by Chris Morris and t@b. March 23 there will be a public screening of Thirst: Water Privatization at 7 p.m. in the Beveridge Arts Centre, room 132.
March 24, a debate on the topic "Should water be considered a human right or a commodity?” will start at 7 p.m. in BAC 132.
A Celebration of Public Water parade March 26, meeting at the pavilion in the Waterfront Park at 3 p.m., will move through Wolfville to present the pledge to Acadia’s vice president academic, Tom Herman, at 3:30 p.m. on University Hall steps.
Community members are welcome, says Buckland-Nicks, but children must be attended by an adult.
Throughout the week, there will be a display of the "Celebration of Water" Photo Contest in the library, along with a model made of plastic bottles by an art class at Acadia.