By Clara Ho, Calgary Herald October 8, 2011
St. Mary’s University College has gone bottled water-free, becoming the first post-secondary institution in the city and possibly the first in the province to make the move.
The school’s 585 students can now get clean, free water from five water refilling stations and fountains, which includes a digital counter indicating how many bottles have been saved.
“We were reflecting on the UN’s General Assembly declaration in 2010 that the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right. So that was pretty impactful to us,” said Nancy Quan, chairwoman of the school’s social justice committee, who launched the initiative.
University president Gerry Turcotte said this is an important first step in acknowledging the preciousness of water as a resource, but also the “huge wastage” with the commodification of water.
“Calgary has unbelievable water. It’s available on tap. Let’s honour that and use those resources,” he said.
According to the UN, nearly 900 million people worldwide don’t have access to clean water.
“This initiative can’t correct that, but it makes people alert to it and puts it on people’s radar,” Turcotte said.
As part of the launch, students were given refillable water bottles and also invited to take a taste test to see if they could distinguish between bottled water and tap water.
“The tap water tastes better, and I’m not just saying that,” said Brooke Ramsay, a thirdyear liberal studies student and member of the social justice committee.
The University of Calgary is not considering halting the sale of bottled water on campus because of an existing beverage contract, said spokesman Grady Semmens.