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Water refill station planning underway in Great Barrington

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By Friday, Aug 31, 2018 Letters 19

To the editor:

This letter is to inform the general public of Great Barrington that we, the Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group, are now working on all the necessary components to establish new water refill stations in Great Barrington and Housatonic.

We are also compiling answers to questions people have about the stations and the GB on Tap program that will accompany the implementation of the bottle bylaw beginning May 1, 2019 — for example, the cost of the refill stations; how they’ll be paid for; where they’ll be located; and, of course, when. We’ll also describe how GB on Tap will work, and we’ll make known the merchants who choose to participate.

As detailed plans are developed with town officials and merchants, we will post updated information beginning in mid-October.

Marcia Arland, Jennifer Clark, Anni Crofut,  Wendy Kleinman and Marj Wexler

The writers are members of The Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group.

19 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Wendy T. Linscott says:

    Kudos to you and thanks for all the time and effort you are putting into this project.

  2. Laura Grunfeld says:

    My best to you all as you navigate through this controversial topic. Please make sure that the design of the water stations is accessible to people with disabilities. Some sources that can help you with that:
    – MA Office on Disability: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-office-on-disability
    – New England ADA Center: https://www.newenglandada.org
    – The US Access Board: https://www.access-board.gov

    1. Jennifer Clark says:

      Thank you for these, Laura.

  3. William Dodds says:

    The letter does not make it clear if The Berkshire Women’s Action Group, a nongovernmental group of private citizens, intends to install these water stations on their own as a matter of civic involvement, or if they intend this as a project for the people of GB to fund

    Is there any clarity on that?

    1. Jennifer Clark says:

      I am a member of the committee. The first avenue of funding for the stations will be private donations and grant money. We are working on various levels of fundraising. Once installed, the fountains will be the property of Great Barrington.

  4. Michelle Loubert says:

    How will water stations in Housatonic work since the village is serviced by Housatonic Water Works, a private company? And since there have been issues with this water supply, how will these issues be addressed?

    1. I, Puplius says:

      Spring water in small plastic bottles from surrounding towns will be smuggled in under cover of darkness.

    2. Jennifer Clark says:

      Hi Michelle, thanks for this question. HWW is enthusiastic about participating, and we look forward to working with them. We will look into the purchase of a filtered station especially for this location.

  5. Kayemtee says:

    One of the more boneheaded ideas I have seen.
    We can all agree that the proliferation of plastic bottles for water is both wasteful and a challenge to the environment. Nevertheless, plastic bottles are a lightweight, clean, cheap method of delivering drinking water when and where needed. An ice-filled bucket of half-liter bottles of Poland Spring (bought at the local Price Chopper for as little as twelve and a half cents a bottle) is the most efficient way to deliver a cold and refreshing need to gatherings, public and private, as well as the cheapest way of satisfying the thirst of a visitor walking down Main Street.
    The proposal for public water stations will be an expensive, little used failure, regardless of who plans it or pays for it. People replaced public water fountains with bottled water because of fear that they were unhygienic and didn’t reliably produce cold, tasty, water.
    Decry single use plastic bottles as wasteful and environmentally unfriendly, but don’t think you will produce a better alternative this way.

  6. W.C. says:

    I completely agree with Kayentee’s comments.

  7. Laura says:

    Once these stations become the property of GB, who pays for the costs for upkeep and maintenance? Our water is metered. Who pays for it? I would of been nice if your action group had all your ducks in a row before dividing this town with this bottle ban that will have little effect on the environment. All you did was force us to go outside of GB to purchase our water. A short while ago, you weren’t even going to put a station in Housatonic because you didn’t want to get involved with Fred Mercer and their water problems. And now all of sudden he is enthusiastic about it all? I saw a water filling station in a store not long ago….a dog was drinking from the fountain. That really makes me want to use one. The next time your action group wants to ban something, start in the town you are from. Leave GB alone.

    1. Tom Blauvelt says:

      Please remember that these water fountains are part of an overall solution to enacting the plastic bottle ban. Some merchants are now stocking their stores with single serve carboard water containers and of course everyone can bring their own water bottle from home. Town voters enthusiastically supported this ban twice and working together we can all help reduce the amount of plastic that is used and is so harmful to our planet..

      1. Laura says:

        I still want my questions answered as to the final cost, who will maintain them, where will they be, do they get shut down in the winter, who pays for the water, who pays for the stations…all legitimate questions that no one will give me a straight answer. That’s my problem.

  8. Laura says:

    I just heard from one of the women from this group. They do not have any of the details worked out yet. No funding. No idea of how many stations. Cost is now 10,000.00 a piece and the town gets to maintain them. Said they don’t know yet who is going to pay for the water. We got screwed over by a bunch of tree huggers.

  9. Laura says:

    10,000.00 a piece.
    No idea who pays for water.
    No idea how many stations.

  10. Jennifer Clark says:

    Hi Laura, in our text conversation this morning, I was very clear about these issues. We are a dedicated groups of volunteers, and we are now assembling all the components to make this program work. You apparently want to depict this as an out of control situation. Far from it. We are proceeding methodically and carefully. These things take time to organize, and we are confident that the outcome will be very positive. Thank you for your interest.

    1. Laura says:

      This all should have been done before it was presented and voted upon at the town meeting. Everything should have been in place. You are doing things piecemeal. I want my questions answered. Final cost? Who maintains and installs and at what cost? Who pays for the water? Where will they be placed? How many? Where is the funding coming from? Once the town owns them, then they have to pay the water dept as they will be treated like the fire hydrants in town…another item to add to the taxpayers bills, that we were just informed went up almost 300.00 for the next year. These are all questions that should have had answers long before now.

  11. Anonymous & intrigued! says:

    Kudos to your group for all of your hard work and dedication. I hope the town I live in gets this initiative going. I’ll inquire! The schools in my district have “water bottle” refill stations for those that would like to carry water around during the day. The station still serves as a fountain to sip on as well. Many students take advantage of the refill capacity and stay hydrated throughout the day! We have more students staying hydrated than in the past which leads to less symptoms of headaches, fatigue, and more. For those interested, you can look up pictures on the internet. While people are still able to refill their bottles partway & at a tilt the now “old fashioned” way, having a separate part for water bottles has its benefits.

    1. Laura says:

      Why are you anonymous?

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