Brewster ban on single


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Jul 04, 2023

Brewster ban on single

If Samuel Taylor Coleridge had written his famous poem "The Rime of the Ancient

If Samuel Taylor Coleridge had written his famous poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" while visiting Brewster today, his often-quoted words could have been about quenched thirst rather than parched tongues surrounded by salty water.

In fact, his mariner might have found plenty of cool water to drink at the public hydration stations the town water department has been installing since Brewster banned single-use plastic water bottles in 2021. It's possible to take sips at the station and fill a bottle.

The effort has been well-received, said Brewster Water Superintendent Paul Anderson recently to the Select Board. So far, his team has installed 11 stations across town.

"We have the Whitecaps field, the dog park — that was a new one that wasn't anticipated back when we looked at this — the Captains Golf Course has two stations, Stony Brook tennis courts two stations installed and behind town hall there's a station as well," he said of the outdoor sites.

Up and running interior stations are at the Brewster Ladies Library, Council on Aging, fire station, town hall and the public works department.

The Whitecaps field was the first station. One of the most appreciated has been at the tennis and pickleball courts, Anderson said.

Carmen Scherzo, president of the Friends of Brewster Dog Park, Inc., said there is a new hydration station for people outside the exercise areas for dogs, and ground level, self-draining stations within the small dog and large dog enclosures for the canines.

"These water fountains significantly enhance the Brewster Dog Park experience, especially on those hot summer days," Scherzo said.

More hydration stations will be installed in coming weeks at the Cape Cod Rail Trail crossing at Route 137, the Sea Camps Bay Property community pool that's opening this summer, Eddy Elementary School (three stations) and Stony Brook Elementary School (three stations).

The hydration station project — led by the Brewster Water Department with support from the Water Commission — was born in 2020 after the town adopted its bylaw prohibiting the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, which took effect on Sept. 1, 2021. As a result, town officials saw the need to make water readily available to residents outside of their homes.

"A community group had proposed banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles in Brewster, a good goal, but you can't just take something away from people without providing an alternative," said Selectwoman Mary Chaffee. "So Brewster developed a plan to install water bottle filling stations at areas where demand would be high."

The stations offer both bubblers and bottle fillers, she said, noting that the hydration station initiative "reflects this community's commitment to environmental protection."

Chaffee is the one who introduced the idea.

"I traveled to Italy in 2017 with my husband and we encountered a water bottle filling station," she said. "We used it frequently to refill our water bottles and thought it was a great idea."

Back in Brewster, she said, she proposed a multi-pronged project to the town Recycling Commission and the town Water Commission, "with an overarching goal of reducing the use of single use plastic and encouraging the public's use of Brewster's award-winning tap water."

"The first initiative was 'Drink Brewster Tap' — an effort to highlight all the great reasons to drink tap water and avoid buying water in disposable bottles," Chaffee said.

The Recycling Commission and the Water Commissioner co-sponsored that effort, which was followed by the hydration station project with its aim to reduce the need to buy water in disposable containers, encourage drinking Brewster tap water, and encourage use of reusable water bottles.

And it's all making a difference, Chaffee said.

Since the indoor station was installed at Brewster Town Hall, use of 18,000 single-use water bottles has been eliminated, she said. Anderson also pointed out the success of the initiative, noting the impact at town hall is just one location.

As the town looks to expand the program, Chaffee said, "we appreciated the support from Brewster voters at town meeting on May 1, where another $25,000 was approved so we can continue to install hydration stations."

The state Department of Environmental Protection recently recognized the Brewster water department for achieving a top score in the medium and large community system category of the 2023 Public Water Systems Awards Program.

Through this program, the agency works with drinking water utilities to make sure the water delivered to consumers meets all federal and state standards, and is clean and abundant. Each of the recognized water systems have complete compliance with the regulations for calendar year 2022.

Heather McCarron writes about climate change, environment, energy, science and the natural world, in addition to news and features in Barnstable, Brewster and Falmouth Reach her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @HMcCarron_CCT

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