The cost of quick water: The numbers behind the hydration stations


Samira Li

The water filtration systems at Townsend Harris are often unreliable.

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Townsend Harris’s water bottle refill stations are often unreliable, and can end up offering a slow trickle of water that  causes one refill to stretch on for three to four minutes. 

The Brita Hydration Stations installed on each floor have water filters, produced by Hydration By Haws, that are supposed to be replaced every three months for optimal performance. Filter replacement has proved effective, as the changing of the filters over winter recess led to consistent and quick water flow from the stations. However, students soon noticed this effectiveness plummeted just two months after the filter replacement, before the replacement light even lit up. Assistant Principal Ms. Ellen Fee said that in practice the replacement period is shorter than company recommendations: “It is not three months. It’s like two and a half months, probably two months.”

This short span creates a financial issue. One Hydration By Haws Replacement Filter costs $90.90, which doesn’t include shipping or tax. The replacements in December alone cost $494.83, a fee that quickly adds up when repurchased every two or three months. Ms. Fee said, “The PTA said they would spend $600 on the filters every year…We have four refill stations and I bought five replacement filters, and now we’re out. And it will cost another $500 to get new ones.”

One solution proposed has been to use SU money, which is collected through the purchases of SU cards. Ticket sales from S!NG and FON could also be used for funding. “I feel like it’s a good way to use the SU money that’s collected because the fountains are used by everybody,” said Ms. Fee.

Some, such as junior Jocelyn Jao, worry that this would deprive the school community of other aspects of the school that receive SU funding. She said, “The money that the SU makes is used to fund school events… The filters should be paid for by the school administration – that responsibility shouldn’t fall on the students.” 

Other students said they agree that using SU money is a worthy investment. “It’s getting hot outside now, so I have to refill my water bottle more often and the fountains are really convenient to use when they work,” said sophomore Emily Carson.