Students can be assured a watchful eye is looking out for the environment at the College. Members of Water Watch, the College’s only environmental group, are out in full force, attempting to provide a clean environment for the campus and surrounding community.
Out in the field, the group consistently tests the stream of water connecting the College’s two lakes – an action they call “stream-walking.” Most recently, stream-walking coordinator Emily Stumpf, junior biology major, conducted a comparison between the chemical components of the College’s stream water, filtered water, fountain water and Aquafina bottled water.
Water from the water fountain was found to have amounts of chlorine, iron and copper. All of the water tested was found to contain phosphate and dissolved oxygen.
Following this year’s passage of the Global Warming Response Act and President R. Barbara Gitenstein’s signing of the American Colleges and Universities President’s Climate Commitment, Water Watch has expanded its outreach to include other pressing environmental issues – recycling and climate control.
“Yes. (The College) recycles,” Meagan Terry, senior sociology major and Water Watch president, said. “Recycling is a huge issue on campus, since it is one of the easiest things that we can do, yet it is not an efficient and effective program here at (the College).”
An ongoing goal of Water Watch is to establish recycling containers wherever there is a trash bin on campus.
“Recycling only works 100 percent effectively when there is a trash bin directly next to a recycling bin,” Terry said. “This is not a common sight on campus, but that will soon be changing.”
In the last month, the group has been working to collect 5,000 plastic water bottles to construct a public art sculpture for the upcoming Community Fest.
“The sculpture is going to represent various statistics concerning plastic water bottle consumption in the United States and the world,” Terry said.
So far, the group is halfway toward reaching its goal. The group will be set up in Brower Student Center today from 11-2 p.m. and in Wolfe Hall from 4-7 p.m. collecting bottles.
Today also happens to be Campus Sustainability Day “for colleges and universities to organize events and education for students surrounding sustainability, environmental issues and climate change,” according to Terry.
“We need as many bottles as possible to really make an impact and have people realize that 5,000 bottles were collected in just a month,” Terry said. “That is a lot of bottles.”
In addition to the water bottle sculpture, Water Watch will also be the “recycling assistants” of Community Fest, making sure bottles, cans and paper are in their respectable receptacles. They will also have a coloring craft for kids.
Community Fest isn’t the first time the group has reached out to the younger generation. In the past, they have given presentations at elementary and middle schools about pollution and water conservation.
While Water Watch has been doing its part, Terry can’t stress enough the importance of student awareness.
“I think we are slowly but surely moving in the right direction for campus sustainability and awareness of crucial environmental issues,” she said. “However, we have a long way to go.”