Help Advance Drinking Water in WA

Oct 15, 2015 by

Help Advance Drinking Water in WA

Background and Update:

The Washington State Building Code Council is nearing the end of an important rules process regarding access to public water. For the very first time, water bottle filling stations are being considered to be added to state building code. As you know, part of our healthy beverage work at COPC includes advocating for improved access to public tap water. We know that water fountains alone may not be the best way to attract individuals, especially youth, to drink the healthiest and more affordable beverage on a regular basis. Water bottle filling stations, particularly those that are chilled and filtered, have emerged as an efficient, cleaner and fresher alternative to water fountains, while also providing an environmental solution to our proliferation of plastic water bottles.

Changing the State Building Code is just one way that COPC has been working to advance this issue; and, this rulemaking is an important opportunity to further legitimize water bottle stations in our state and to make Washington a leader on this work nationally.

It is critical that we tell the State Building Code Council (SBCC) about the importance of passing (and improving upon) this draft rule.

Our Ask of You:

On October 16th, COPC will testify in front of the Statewide Building Code Council. COPC has been part of this state rules process since early 2015. In February we petitioned the SBCC for this rules change. A technical advisory committee met several times to debate this idea and we provided public testimony to that process. The full SBCC met in June and agreed to advance the current draft of the rule for final rulemaking. At the public hearing on the 16th, we will speak to the points below.

We need you to support our planned testimony below by e-mailing the State Building Code Council at sbcc@ga.wa.gov by October 23rd.

Our Main Points:

While we are pleased that the draft rule allows for substituting up to 50% of water bottle stations for water fountains required in the building, we should push that standard a bit higher.

We will suggest to the SBCC that water bottle filling stations should be substituted for at least 50% of the number of required water fountains and as much as 100%. Rationale for this higher standard include:

  • Why cap the substitution percentage at 50%? That seems like an artificial line to draw. If the building owners want to include water bottle filling stations only they should not be prohibited from doing so.
  • Of course, we would suggest that if the 50% ceiling was raised higher that at least half of the water bottle filling stations be “hybrid” models – those that include both a water fountain and a filling station. We do not want to shirk our responsibilities to comply with ADA requirements.
  • We now have affordable technology to drive greater tap water consumption in our general public through water bottle filling stations. Let’s use our state building code as a way to take an emerging social norm – the use of reusable water bottles – and place it into policy.

Questions? Contact us at info@copcwa.org

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