|Friday, Aug 16, 2013|
Over the last six months, Lake Mead National Recreation Area visitors have kept more than 13,600 water bottles out of landfills by using a new hydration station at the Alan Bible Visitor Center.
The hydration station provides visitors with cold, filtered water. It functions as a standard drinking fountain but also has a shelf with a sensor for filling water bottles. The sensor initiates the water fill, and every time a bottle is filled, it is automatically counted and displayed on the station.
"Word is getting around that this is the place to stop and refill your water bottle, which with the heat and everything else, that's a really good message to have," said Michelle Riter, a Lake Mead NRA district interpreter.
Riter said installation of the hydration station is part of the Lake Mead NRA's Climate Friendly Parks action plan to cut down on plastic water bottle waste. This plan includes initiatives to increase visitor use of refillable water bottles, increase number of filling stations in the park and collaborate with the visitor center store to sell less expensive refillable water bottles.
Once the hydration station was installed, Riter said they stopped selling bottled water at the visitor center store and began selling more varieties of refillable water bottles. She said the least expensive water bottle is only $2.99 and has the Lake Mead NRA logo on it along with facts about the park.
Park visitors, especially local hikers and bicyclists who use the trails, have been spreading the news about the new hydration station by word of mouth and through social media, Riter added. They are excited to see how many water bottles have been refilled and want hydration stations to be installed in other areas of the park.
Funding for the hydration station was provided by the WNPA. Riter and her staff will continue observing visitor use of the hydration station, and they are looking into ways to expand the climate friendly program.