Library, Phillips could get new refill stations

Story by Haley Zblewski, Chief Copy Editor


In 2010, the Student Office of Sustainability funded 12 water bottle filling stations. The “EZ H2O to go!” bottle filling stations are meant to promote the use of reusable water bottles rather than using one-time use plastic bottles.

Now, SOS is hoping to purchase five more, to be placed in McIntyre Library and Phillips Hall.

Director of SOS Ellen Sorenson introduced a bill to the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate on Monday. The bill asked Student Senate to approve spending $12,500 from the SOS 2013-2014 Environmental Responsibility Account for the water bottle filling stations.

Sorenson said the new water bottle stations will be located on the second, fourth, and fifth floors of the library and on the second and third floors of Phillips Hall and would replace existing water fountains.

“A couple of the ones we chose to replace were in the highest traffic areas,” she said. “We decided not to fund the ones that were tucked away in corners or weren’t used by lots of students. We decided to fund the ones that were used by a lot of students.”

The water bottle filling stations, which are also handicap accessible drinking fountains, have “green tickers” that inform users of how many 12 oz. plastic water bottles they have saved from landfills.

Keeping plastic water bottles from landfills is an important project for SOS because plastic bottles take over 1,000 years to biodegrade, the bill said, and it is estimated that more than 80 percent of all single-use water bottles used in the U.S. become litter and are not recycled.

Freshman Alex Exworthy said she thinks the water bottle filling stations are a good idea.

“I think having water bottle refilling stations promotes us reusing water bottles,” Exworthy said. “And when you drink out of a regular fountain, water does go to waste because your mouth doesn’t catch all the water.”

Overall, Exworthy said she thought replacing water fountains with these stations was a smart investment.

“I think there’s a lot of other things (Student Senate) could spend money on,” she said. “But I feel that would be something that is definitely worth our money.”

The bill will come before Senate again on Monday, May 6.

Health insurance policy for students Finance Commission Director and Student Body President Elect Bryan Larson also introduced a bill for continuing the health insurance policy for UW-Eau Claire students for the 2013-2014 school year.

Historically, Student Senate has provided health insurance for students, but this year, the premiums have risen 33.76 percent, Larson said.

“(It is) largely in part due to compliance with the what Affordable Care Act entails,” he said. “So that’s going to change from last year’s plan of around $900 and this year’s will be around $1,300.”

Larson said the health insurance will go through the same agency the university has used for years, Southard Insurance Agency Inc. Other options weren’t really looked into, he said, because the agency is familiar with the university and Eau Claire students.

Larson said the health insurance policy is reviewed each year to make sure students have the best option possible.

“It is for students who do not have insurance, who are not covered by their parents’ plan or their work’s plan or a plan anywhere else, to provide for them a healthcare option they can purchase,” he said.

The Senate will also vote on this bill on May 6.