H2O at WO


Brandon Pohl

In 2013, the graduating class came up with a senior gift that is arguably the most useful of all recent senior gifts. This would be the water fill stations located in both buildings.

  Each building is equipped with four water bottle fill stations, two on the first floor, and two on the second floor. Students can be seen filling their personal water bottles before class throughout the day. But these water bottle fill stations were put there for more than just convenience. They also dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste from disposable water bottles that are put in landfills.

  The number of water bottles the fill stations have kept out of the landfill was counted Jan 11. At that time the grand total of water bottles was 244,234 bottles, give or take a few. Looking at the stations a week later, it can be estimated West Ottawa fills a total of 800 water bottles every week, at least during the school year. The station that gets the most traffic is the west side station on the second floor of the north building. The station with the least amount of traffic was the east side station on the first floor of the south building. It can be concluded the number of water bottles filled at each station coincides with the amount of traffic that hallway gets.

  According to the website of the fill station’s manufacturers, Elkay, each water bottle counted is equivalent to a 20 oz bottle. This means West Ottawa has consumed almost 40,000 gallons of water since the installation of the stations. That is twice as much water as there is in the average in-ground pool.

  The average 20 oz water bottle is about 8 in tall. If you put them end to end, the water bottles would reach from Holland all the way to Muskegon.

   The manufacturer of the water bottle fill stations also includes a calculator on their website that calculates how many pounds of plastic have been saved from the landfill. West Ottawa has so far kept almost 11,000 pounds of plastic from getting into landfills, assuming West Ottawans would consume the same amount of bottled water as they have from the fill stations.

The process of manufacturing disposable water bottles uses more than twice the amount of water in the bottle. It uses natural gas and releases  CO2 into the air. When thrown away, these disposable water bottles create even more pollution. By using reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones, West Ottawa is making an exponentially more positive impact on our environment.