Brand new drinking fountains have recently found their way into a number of buildings on campus thanks to the efforts of student and faculty who saw an opportunity to make Augustana a little more eco-friendly.

The new fountains, which made an initial appearance in Solberg and have since been introduced in Bergsaker, Morrison Commons, and the first floor of the library, include an automated bottle-filling system in addition to a typical fountain head. They also feature a prominent digital screen displaying the number of plastic water bottles that have been saved from waste as a result.

The goal of the fountains is straightforward: they aim to make filling re-usable bottles faster and more convenient, thereby discouraging the use of disposable plastic bottles and making Augustana more environmentally friendly.

The project was instigated by members of Tri-Beta, the local chapter of the National Biological Honor Society, and their faculty advisors.

“The officers of Tri-Beta last year noticed that many college campuses had these water filling stations installed in their buildings and were used by a majority of the students,” Tri-Beta president Ashley Schmidt said.

“Tri-Beta thought it would be a great addition to the Augustana campus as a way to encourage students to use these water filling stations rather than using plastic water bottles,” Schmidt said. “We met with dean Hasseler in order to implement the project last spring and were able to order four fillings stations this summer.”

Schmidt said she hopes the student body will utilize the new water fountains so Tri-Beta can install them in all dorms and academic buildings in the future.

Tri-Beta co-secretary Claire Bestul described how she, along with Schmidt, vice president Courtney Moore, and advisor Carrie Hall, first saw these types of drinking fountains at a conference and decided that they would be a worthy investment here at Augie. She went on to explain how that notion spawned a successful collective effort.

“Tri-Beta collectively made it happen with the support and help of dean [Susan] Hassler and (dean of students) Jim Bies,” Bestul said. “Tom Meyer was also instrumental in ordering the stations.”

Tri-Beta intends to evaluate the impact the new fountains have on recycling levels, which will hopefully be able to demonstrate a significant enough benefit to warrant the installation of a fountain in every building on campus.

“I’m ecstatic about the Hydration Stations,” Bestul said. “They are a step in the right direction for Augie to ‘go green’ and function more sustainably.”