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University receives grant to install new water bottle filling stations

ISSUED: 4 January 2022

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Clean drinking water will become more accessible across the Shepherd University campus, thanks to a $36,720 REAP Recycling Assistance Grant from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Shelley Shaffer, physical plant manager, Dr. Sytil Murphy, associate professor of physics, and Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, professor of English, worked with Madge Morningstar, director, Office of Sponsored Programs, to secure the grant, which will cover the cost of purchasing and installing 10 outdoor, frost-free filling stations and 20 indoor stations.

“We are overjoyed to have received this grant,” Murphy said. “Part of Shepherd’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was to turn off all the water fountains across campus, limiting access to clean drinking water. We are so glad that we could help bring that access back to Shepherd.”

Murphy said the new filling stations will offer the campus community much healthier water than is found in the old fountains and will help reduce plastic waste.

“Available studies show that water from water fountains presents numerous health risks due to heavy metals and microbial contaminants, making it potentially unsafe,” she said. “Currently, the available alternative to the water fountains is water bottles. A water bottle filling station will allow easy refilling of reusable bottles and decrease waste from single-use bottles. Thus, water bottle filling stations are an environmentally friendly option for providing drinking water to the campus community that can be filtered and sanitized, greatly reducing the health risks.”

In addition to the purchase and installation of the filling stations, the grant will cover signage that will promote their use and provide information about their health and environmental benefits. Murphy expects all 30 new water bottle filling stations to be installed before the end of 2022.

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