LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Members of Passaic Valley High School's environmental club are trying to make a real effort to put a curb on wasting plastic water bottles and increase the use of refillable bottles.
According to Billy Goodman, science teacher and environmental club advisor, the students are taking part in various fundraising efforts in order to install the high school's first ever, self-dispensing water fountain.
"Our main goal is to install one of these water fountains in the high school," said Goodman. "We brought 400 of these reusable water bottles designed by one of our students and we're selling them. The bottles are to be used with the fountain, which should cut the needs for plastic water bottles."
The bottles were being sold at $10 each during the second annual autism walk held on Sunday. The fountain unit costs on average around $2,000. The amount does not include installation, which is a separate cost, Goodman added.
"We've sold approximately 140 of these bottles so far, but we still need to sell the rest of them," he said, adding that club aims to sell them by the end of spring. "The idea is to make an impact by selling the water bottles through the school, installing the unit, which will help the environment by saving wasteful plastic bottles."
Besides helping the environment, Goodman said the club's other initiative for the project is make people aware that water from the faucet is clean and safe when filtered properly.
"Water is being treated with chlorine, which gives it a bad after taste so the filter will remove that, and other impurities in the tap water," he explained.
The club is still awaiting approval from the high school's board of education for installing the fountain.
"It's tentative but it's not a done deal yet," added Goodman.
Dr. JoAnn Cardillo, superintendent, said that board members are looking into it.
"It really falls under the facilities department," Cardillo noted. "The students from the environment club are taking part in the project to help the environment. The project needs approval from the board and it's currently being reviewed to be discussed at an upcoming board of education meeting."
High school officials have recently taken part in water fountain sampling over the past year, in light of recent reports of poor water quality in schools and government offices nationwide. In many instances, lead levels were found at unsafe levels for water consumption, throughout various states.
Last year, the high school conducted its first set of water survey results, which found one fountain, located in the Griswold Gym, that was not in the safe range of acceptable lead levels by the EPA. That fountain was immediately replaced, including its plumbing.
Recent report findings last year also showed that as many as 138 municipalities have elevated levels of chromium 6. The carcinogen was found in the drinking water of more than 20 towns in Bergen and Passaic Counties. The report consisted of data submitted to the EPA from water providers nationwide that were taken from water sampling in a two-year period (2013 to 2015).