With almost 2,000 pledges accumulated in support of their “Take Back the Tap” campaign, the Public Health Association (PHA) at Montclair State University was awarded $3,000 to implement more refillable water stations on campus.
This year was the PHA’s first time entering the Food and Water Watch’s annual Tap-a-Palooza contest, in which they competed against other colleges and universities that have also implemented Take Back the Tap on their campuses. According to the contest rules, the chapter which received the most pledges would receive a $1,500 stipend to further their cause.
Before the PHA at Montclair State beat out the College of William and Mary by nearly 700 signatures, the PSE&G Institute of Sustainability Science, located in the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences (CELS), offered to match the prize amount if Montclair State’s chapter were to win. Therefore, with their victory, the PHA not only received the $1,500 award, but also an additional $1,500 in matched funds.
“It was amazing to see the amount of support from students to improve our water infrastructure,” said PHA President Alessandro Ciari, who recounted their plans to add at least two additional refillable water stations with the award money.
Since they began the campaign in the spring of 2014, the PHA, which is a Class III organization of the Student Government Association, has installed a number of water fountains around campus which allow students to refill their bottles without pressing a single button.
“Since we had success, we’ve been able to influence the administration to install more of them,” said Ciari. “By way of education, research and advocacy, we have been able to influence the installation of 10 refillable water stations on campus,” including the ones being added with the award money. According to Ciari, their success has resulted in students “clamoring for more.”
Due to its recent victory, the organization will be installing at least one additional fountain in CELS and one in University Hall, along with a possible third fountain somewhere else on campus. They have teamed up with University Facilities, who have been managing each new installation. According to Ciari, each water station costs approximately $1,000.
The water stations help “not only with environmental awareness, but also with economic sustainability, and [they] will also improve the health of the campus by steering the students away from vending machines,” said Ciari. He hopes that their efforts will create a “ripple effect” beyond Montclair State’s campus and into the surrounding areas to raise environmental awareness and improve the health of the community.
The PHA’s success with Take Back the Tap was presented earlier this month at the 30th Annual Clean Water Action Conference, and a research study conducted by the organization was presented at Montclair State’s Student Research Symposium this past Friday, April 15.