By Ingrid Birker
In May 2011, when the accumulated rainfall of 102 mm (three times the amount of rain that fell last May) caused the Richelieu River to breach its banks and force over 1,000 people to leave their homes, McGill installed six high-volume water dispensing and refilling stations. Known as “BYOB”, these large, blue, mobile water kiosks were bought from WaterFillz with the money raised by Class Action 2011. This proudly marks McGill as the first place in the province where you can get municipal water easily rather than searching for a tap in a bistro or café or awkwardly trying to refill your bottle in a bathroom sink. Ready to use, the BYOB is hooked up to a power supply and promotes the consumption of municipal water, which is tested more frequently and rigorously than bottled water. Bottled water is heavily marketed as a smart and healthful choice, but the truth is that it is no purer or safer than local tap water and is much more expensive. At McGill the new BYOB lets us carry a refillable water container and confidently know that we can find six locations near our work, class, or recreational areas where we can easily refill it. This wonderful “blue” addition to the landscape will help McGill reduce the consumption of bottled water on campus — making it a truly “green” initiative. Bottled water creates enormous quantities of waste, most of which is not recycled and ends up in landfills, and each litre of bottled water requires 3 litres of water to produce. It was not hard to imagine the need for easily accessible drinking water during the hot week of Convocation ceremonies and I spent a few hours talking to people filling up at the BYOB stationed outside McLennan Library. The overall consensus was positive.