Students and Staff Collaborate to Ensure Water Access On Campuses 

by Teghan Acres

As we prepared to phase out single-use plastic beverage bottles as a part of the Re-use For Good initiative, students pointed out a problem. Water refill stations were not equally accessible across university buildings. Change needed to happen and who better to guide that change than the students themselves? 

The result was an unprecedented collaboration between SFU club Ban the Bottle, Ancillary Services, Facilities Services, the Sustainability Office and IT Services. These groups worked together to identify locations lacking access, install new water stations, upgrade older models, and upload the map of refill locations to the SFU SNAP App.

Russell Dunsford, past Ban the Bottle President and recent Faculty of Environment graduate, explains the collaboration process: “Ban the Bottle worked with SFU Ancillary Services and SFU Facilities to map out all existing water refill stations and identify locations for the placement of a number of new stations, as well as locate stations needing upgrades or repairs. This process involved students with Ban the Bottle using GIS tools to audit campus spaces and collect spatial data which was then analyzed by a team including all involved members.”

The work began in 2019 and has resulted in new and upgraded stations at all SFU campuses, bringing the total of water refill stations to 168. SFU eliminated single-use plastic beverage bottles in 2021, knowing that access to water had greatly improved. 

These collaborators continue to work together for a constantly improving SFU. Russell adds that “plans are being developed for more stations to be upgraded or added, with some new outdoor models being installed soon.” 

Jessica Li, GIS Specialist for Campus Planning & Development shares her perspective on the project: “I was so happy to participate and apply GIS technology to this meaningful project. Without the collaboration with other departments, we would not have been able to make the best use of the data or reach our goal as smoothly.” 

The group realized that with the return to campus in fall 2021, new SFU community members may not know where to find the water refill stations. This is where IT Services stepped in to add the locations of all 168 stations to the SFU Snap App campus map. Students supported again by testing and providing feedback on the new app feature. 

Andrew Leung, Application Developer for IT Services who led the SFU Snap App project says, “Thanks to the collaborative efforts between our respective departments, we have quite literally put bottle refill stations on the map to help the SFU community Re-use for Good!” 

Students are influential members of the SFU community. This collaboration is an example of how we can improve our community for all when we work together. 

Download the SFU Snap App to find your closest water refill station and remember to bring your reusable bottle to campus. 

Click here to learn more about the Re-use For Good initiative.