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President signs Bottled Water Free declaration

By Mandy Cook | Sept. 7, 2009

Dr. Christopher Loomis, Memorial University’s president (pro tempore), today signed a document at Orientation 2009, pledging to eliminate the distribution of bottled water at all university-sponsored events.
 
The Bottled Water Free pledge will also signify Memorial’s dedication to develop a Water Access Plan to upgrade current infrastructure so as to increase access to public drinking water and ensure all new campus buildings include adequate access to public drinking fountains.    
               
“Signing the declaration during orientation reinforces Memorial’s commitment to building a greener, more sustainable campus,” said Dr. Loomis. “We recognize that our tap water is safe and should be used instead of bottled water which carries with it costs and environmental implications. This pledge is a fresh start to a new school year and I am pleased to kick off my first semester as president with an initiative about which the student community and I share an interest.”
 
Dr. Loomis also said that the response to students’ requests to put an end to the prevalence of bottled water on campus and the pledge to go bottled water free are concrete examples of the university moving forward on its commitment to a sustainable campus and community. The pledge reads:

The Memorial University of Newfoundland community pledges to:
Progressively and systematically eliminate the distribution of plastic bottled water at all University events and, through environmental and health education programming, achieve the ultimate goal of a university community this is bottled water free.
Conduct a University-wide Public Water Access Audit — a comprehensive analysis of the current state of public water access on campus. The final report of this audit will be made public in fall 2009.
Based on the results of the Audit and Employee Water Survey, develop a priority-based Water Access Plan to upgrade current infrastructure so as to increase access to public drinking water. This plan shall be made in consultation and conjunction with students, faculty and staff of the University community.
Ensure that all new campus buildings include adequate access to public drinking fountains and/or water fill stations.

As part of Orientation 2009 and its water awareness campaign, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union and Student Affairs and Services are giving away 4,000 refillable water bottles to new and incoming students. The distribution of the reusable water bottles is meant to minimize waste, reduce the need to purchase water and encourage the use of numerous new water bottle accessible water fountains installed throughout campus.
               
Student representatives who spearheaded the bottled water free movement at Memorial applauded the signing of the declaration. At a time when prospective students are seeking out institutions that cultivate a sustainable culture, legitimizing the practice of selling water is counter-intuitive to this generation’s cadré of students.

"Students designed this pledge and asked the university to sign on knowing that Memorial can be a leader in sustainable practices and social responsibility," said Becky Winsor, Executive Director of Campaigns with the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students' Union. "By signing the Water Pledge, the university community is putting forward a progressive agenda to increase water access on campus while taking tangible steps to reduce the usage of bottled water on our campuses. This initiative is something that students, staff, faculty and alumni can all be very proud of."
       
The water declaration is the latest in a number of projects that the university has undertaken to make its campuses greener and more sustainable, including an idle-free campaign for vehicles, stronger recycling efforts, car pooling and a broad energy performance contract signed with Honeywell which saw the university upgrade its heating and lighting systems to make them more energy efficient.


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