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Students appreciate drinking water quality at Palo Alto

Though not as noticeable as other living necessities, clean drinking water plays an important role in remaining human health, and is limited in many places.

According to the report of the United Nations, 2.1 billion people in the world lack access to safely-managed drinking water services. Even more tragically, a journalistic article published on the United Nations press release states that water-related diseases kill a child every 8 seconds, and are responsible for 80% of all illness and deaths in the developing world.

Fortunately, Palo Alto has been far from these concerns regarding drinking water quality. According to local government website “the city of Palo Alto”, Palo Alto’s water comes from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), consisting almost entirely of Sierra Nevada snowmelt delivered from the Hetch Hetchy water distribution system. According to the annual water quality report of the Palo Alto local government in 2016, this is some of the highest-quality water in the United States, exceeding all state and federal standards for drinking water. Because of this, most water from the taps and water fountains in Palo Alto is high quality.

In a survey conducted recently among Paly students, 6 students out of 23 categorized the drinking water quality at Palo Alto as “average” while the other 17 categorized it as “very good.” In addition, 21 out of 23 people in the survey said they drink tap water at home.

Having a safe water source makes a city more environmentally friendly, primarily by reducing the generation of plastic waste. Led by the tapout club, Paly students have been putting in efforts to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

“The idea behind TapOut is to try and stop the use of single-use plastic water bottles. If you ‘tap out’ of something, you’re stopping something, so the idea is people should tap out from using single-use bottles.”

Caitlin Evans

As part of their efforts, according to Evans, the tap out club has helped add bottle-refilling stations to water fountains that previously existed at Paly.

“The tapout club realized that if they were going to try to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus they would need to make it easy to refill reusable water bottles,” Evans said. “When they were successful in talking the District Office into letting Paly ban the sale of water bottles they knew the next step would be to offer refill stations. So they made an effort to have refill stations added to existing water fountains around campus.”

Charlotte Amsbaugh, the president of the tapout club, said that the club hopes to increase the use of reusable water bottles among Paly students and staff.

“I hope that by making refilling bottles easier, more students feel encouraged to use a water bottle. Palo Alto has great water quality, which is why we are such big advocates for drinking water from the tap instead of (plastic bottles).”

Charlotte Amsbaugh

Senior Eric Solway, who claimed that he always brings a filled water bottle when he leaves his house, said that the refill stations are convenient.

“(The refill stations) have made it a lot easier for me to go around and refill my water bottle when I’m not at home,” Solway said.

In addition to convenience, Solway pointed out that drinking water from taps and using water bottles save money and benefit the environment.

“It would cost you about a hundred dollars a year if you only drink water from plastic bottles,” Solway said. “And plastic is a horrible thing to the environment. Our drinking water here at Palo Alto is better than most places in the world, and we should take advantage of it.”


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