Healthy You for a Healthy Universe

I Heart Tap Water logoLater evolved into I Heart Tap Water

Project Leads:
Cathy Kodoma, Kim LaPean, Trish Ratto

University Health Services

TGIF Grant:

Project Theme: Water Conservation & Tap Water

Project Location

2008 Application Submission


Project Description:
This collaborative campaign sought to promote the drinking of tap water to the campus community and make tap water the preferred beverage over bottled water, soda, and energy drinks.

I Heart Tap Water Website

Goals: Locate and assess current accessibility to campus tap water (i.e. water fountains) and install new water bottle refill stations. Promote the use of reusable aluminum water bottles and distribute thousands of free high-quality reusable bottles with a consistent health & sustainability logo. Build campus awareness about the environmental and health benefits of choosing tap water through a public information campaign. Reduce the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by 25%, thereby reducing the campus waste stream, the use of petroleum-based products, and the daily caloric intake of individuals. Have campus members sign tap water pledges.

2009 Project Poster

2008-2009 Accomplishments and Final Results
The I Heart Tapwater campaign, a collaboration between Cal Dining, Recreational Sports, EH&S, and University Health Services, served to promote tapwater as a preferred beverage over bottled water, soda, and energy drinks. A key part of the campaign was to address the negative perceptions of tap water and improve the campus access to drinking water; to this end, staff and students worked together to promote tap water through:

  • Campus event tabling, including Caltopia 2008, Play Green, Mind-Body Awareness Week, and Earth Week.
  • Developing and promoting the I Heart Tapwater website with information regarding the benefits of tap water, prizes, and a pledge to drink more tap water. As of March 2009, there were 4,802 hits to the I Heart Tap Water webpage and 813 students, faculty and staff had taken the pledge. Of those, 80% used a refillable water bottle and quench thirst from sources all over campus from water fountains to kitchens in departments.
  • Campus units purchased approximately 1,000 reusable stainless steel bottles for distribution.
  • Sponsoring the campus presentation of the documentary film "Flow" in collaboration with campus Earthweek.
  • Working with campus media to promote the tap water message.
    • Article in eGrad newsletter.
    • Ads in the Daily Californian.
    • I Heart Tap Water Facebook page.
    • Promotional posters distributed in campus departments and student living centers.
    • Postcards, buttons, and stickers distributed widely on campus.

Water Fountain Assessment
The students in the fall 2008 NST 166 Community Nutrition class received training from EH&S professionals to assess water fountains for visual appeal, water pressure and water color, odor and taste. They assessed 467 water fountains in over 65 campus buildings and only found 24 fountains to be problematic for anything from being dirty or stained to being completely out of service. These fountains were reported to Physical Plant Campus Services. Six months later, two students reassessed the 24 problem fountains and found 6 continue to be unacceptable. This information has been made available on the website in order to encourage people to use water fountains and overcome the negative stigma associated with campus water fountains.

Bottle Refill Stations
Project staff worked with campus building managers and coordinators, campus departments, and the bottle refill station vendor, to establish locations for tap water bottle refill stations to be placed in strategic locations on campus, and in new buildings, to provide a hygienic way for people to refill water bottles. This was the most challenging aspect of the project, since complications with the vendor and individual building issues delayed the installations. In March 2009, the Recreational Sports Facility was able to get two bottle refill stations installed. See the Berkeleyan article.The long term goal for this strategy is to encourage departments to make the initial outlay for a bottle refill station and reduce University costs for purchasing water dispensers (in 2004-2005, campus departments spent $167,746 on cooler services), in addition to transportation and waste impacts.

Looking for a bottle refill station to refill your reusable bottle with tap water? View the I Heart Tap Water Map here

Final Report

Final Report Addendum

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.