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News Brief: Water stations funding in place

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By Saturday, Mar 30, 2019 News 4

Funding for public water stations is now in place

Great Barrington — Funding for the purchase and installation of three public water stations in town is now in place, a key hurdle in finalizing the town’s ban on the sale of non-recyclable, single-use PET plastic water bottles of 1 liter or less.

Funds were raised privately by the Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group. This group also led the bottle-ban bylaw initiative, which was affirmed by a majority of voters at two town meetings last year. Funds for one filling station came from multiple donors; two anonymous donors have committed to fund two others.

“The selectboard is so pleased with the grassroots fundraising effort to support this initiative,” said Stephen Bannon, board chair. “We have given the go-ahead to the town’s DPW superintendent to begin the purchase and installation of the stations outside Mason Library, Town Hall and at Housatonic Community Center.”

Great Barrington was the second town in the state to adopt such a ban, following the town of Concord, in an effort to reduce plastic waste, especially nonrecyclable waste.

The Housatonic station, affixed to the outside of the Housatonic Community Center building, will include a filtration system due to periodic water quality concerns in the village. The stations at Town Hall and the Mason Library will be freestanding; all will operate during three seasons, but not during the coldest winter months.

The ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles went into effect Jan. 1, 2019, but the town has held off on compliance enforcement until public water stations are completed.

The board set a May 2020 enforcement date, but Bannon said that date will be reconsidered once water station installations are operational sometime this summer. However, the town urges businesses throughout town to proactively comply if they have not yet done so.

So far, 28 stores have signed on to the GB on Tap program, displaying a “GB on Tap” in their windows and agreeing to fill customers’ reusable bottles upon request.

The town will expand its outreach and education about the water bottle ban in coming weeks in advance of the summer visitor season.

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4 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Laura C says:

    Will the water be free of charge? After all people would have had to pay for a bottle of water in the store, or will the tax payers be responsible for the water bills and the upkeep of the stations.

  2. Steve Farina says:

    Congratulations to the BWAG on the raising of private funds. Truly. Contrary to what some think, I am not against these stations being installed and maintained at no cost to the taxpayer.

    I am, however, curious why there will not be a filter on the downtown GB stations and what criteria is being used to determine the need for one in Housie.
    We have, afterall, been assured that all our tap water is “safe”.

    Also, as for the locations, was there a study of any sort done to determine the foot traffic of people utilizing 1L water bottles in these locations, or is it just for show?

    Ultimately, as has been pointed out in various comment sections on the Edge, the water stations and the bottle ban are two different issues – only joined by the promise of the BWAG to provide them during their clever marketing of the water bottle ban.

    Finally, for those such as myself, who seek alternatives to using plastic bottles or any sort, I found a great little shop on Main St in West Stockbridge ( R&R) who sells hair shampoo bars (wrapped in paper) – no plastic bottles needed.
    If GB continue the folly of this water bottle ban, maybe we should start mandating people give up their shampoo bottles too.

  3. W.C. says:

    What is wrong with this picture? You can still not get drinkable water in Housatonic, but give it away for the tourist dollars.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      There will be nothing to stop the residents of Housatonic from going and filling up bottles of free filtered water to bring home. Enjoy (for 7 to 9 months), courtesy of the BWAG and HWW.

      What is unknown is WHY there is a need to filter the “safe” water, and what is being filtered. Is it merely sedimentation filtration? Or perhaps chlorine, lead, mercury and/or some other contaminants?
      What is the Town’s liability now that they seem to be admitting to a water quality problem in Housatonic?
      Still many unanswered questions…

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