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Students push for ‘greener’ water

The group Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), is attempting to make USF greener by installing water purification systems in classroom buildings and passing out biodegradable water bottles.  

 SIFE researched the benefits and drawbacks of water purification systems and techniques and set up an online survey to gauge student interest in a “green” project, said Ferdian Jap, a graduate student in entrepreneurship and SIFE board member. The group came up with the multifaceted “Greenwater Project.”

SIFE’s mission is to get rid of plastic bottles by passing out 20,000 biodegradable

The group also hopes to install an Aqua Chill system in every building on campus, Jap said.

The Aqua Chill system uses reverse osmosis filtration to purify water and dispense it as drinkable water, said Hong Luu, project leader and a senior majoring in biomedical science.

“The Aqua Chill cooler is a closed system, so there’s no exposure to the outside elements,” Jap said. “(It) can produce 600 gallons of purified water per month.”

Bottled water companies also use reverse osmosis to filter water.

“The water that comes out of it is usually either the same as Aquafina’s or Dasani’s,”
Jap said.

Students could refill their reusable water bottles and not have to buy disposable bottles of water, Jap said, reducing the amount of plastic that is thrown away.

An online survey was set up to determine if installation of an Aqua Chill system would be reasonable, Jap said.

Most respondents said they do not drink from existing fountains, but bring their own bottled water — most of which is in disposable bottles that are not reused.

Also, many students said they don’t consider water fountains clean or sanitary and said the fountains do not provide good-tasting water.

The top four buildings for which students requested the Aqua Chill systems were the Campus Recreation Center, Cooper Hall, the Library and the Marshall Student Center.

Jap said many departments on campus, including SG offices, already have
five-gallon water cooler systems.

These systems use jugs, which Jap said take up space and have to be delivered — which requires the cost of gas.

“We did some research, and those five-gallon jugs of water pretty much cost $100 a month or so,” Jap said.

Five-gallon jugs limit the amount of water that can be used, Luu said, while the Aqua Chill system’s water supply is continuous.

“It has the advantage of the five-gallon jug without the jug,” she said.

The Aqua Chill system costs $40 per month, including maintenance fees. There are no delivery fees, Jap said.

“Robert Forsythe, dean of the College of Business, has agreed to fund four years’ worth of the Aqua Chill system to be installed in the business building,” he said.

Jap said SIFE is hoping the Green Fee — a proposal students voted for on the SG election ballot that, if passed at the state level, would require a fee of 75 cents per credit hour for renewable energy efficiency projects on campus — would one day fund this project.

SIFE is looking into funding through partnerships with different companies and colleges at the University.

Jap said the group is also trying to pass a SG Senate resolution in support of the project.

SG Senator Ralph Reid said SG would likely support the venture.

“We’re all bound by what our constituency wants,” Reid said. “And if they want these water coolers, then hopefully we’ll find a way.”

Jap said the system has been installed in the business building, and SIFE is working on the other buildings.

“Our main hard goal that we’ve done so far is getting through facilities and the building managers of each building to agree to get it installed,” Jap said.

Last year, SIFE implemented 15 projects totaling 3,295 service hours and won a regional competition that sent them to Chicago for nationals, in which they placed in the top 40.

“What we do as a team is compete against SIFE teams from other schools around the country,” he said.

SIFE at USF is the No. 2 team in the state.