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New hydration stations installed in Santa Barbara parks to reduce the use of plastics

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Two Santa Barbara parks now have new water stations for passersby carrying containers that can be reused. The Community Environmental Council (CEC) announced the additions in Alameda and Shoreline parks.

Mayor Cathy Murillo cut the ribbon Friday morning at one of the hydration sites in Alameda Park, assisted by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams.

The one in Alameda Park is near the Kids World playground.

The CEC has been a project partner with El Gato Channel Foundation, and City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department.

Each station also has a ground-level fountain for dogs.

The CEC’s Rethink the Drink program started providing hydration stations to regional schools in 2010.

In a news release the CEC said:

The program Managed by Kathi King, CEC’s Climate Education and Leadership Director, the program aims to reduce dependence on single use plastic bottles while teaching kids and staff why these efforts matter to the environment.

More than 100 hydration stations are at schools throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties thanks to Rethink the Drink, keeping students and staff hydrated through more than 6 million refills to date.

King has also led assemblies on plastic reduction for more than 37,000 students of all ages at participating schools.

“Expanding to public parks is a natural progression of our Rethink the Drink program to create community wellbeing,” stated King. “This synergistic solution reduces plastic waste while increasing public access to safe, clean water, and it could not have happened without our partnership with El Gato Channel Foundation and the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department."

Putting hydration stations in public parks has been a longtime program goal for Rethink the Drink and moves forward efforts to reduce plastic waste through CEC's Circular Economy initiative.

The new hydration stations feature a quick-fill mechanism for water bottles, a regular water fountain spout, and a dog bowl.

CEC worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to choose the location of the hydration stations. Selecting Alameda Park had particular meaning since CEC has hosted the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival here since 2009. Shoreline Park is also significant due to its proximity to the ocean where so much of our plastic waste ends up.

City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Director Jill Zachary commented, “Parks & Recreation is pleased to partner with CEC and El Gato Channel Foundation. Water bottle filling stations are a great addition to City parks.”

Two key collaborators from the El Gato Channel Foundation – Board Member Gina Giannetto and Foundation Grants Manager Torrie Cutbirth – spoke to why they felt passionate about the project, and why CEC was critical to its success: “We were thrilled to bring hydration stations to two city parks, providing equitable access to water in these public spaces. Every step we take towards reducing single use plastics is a step in the right direction. CEC brought together their track record of impactful programming, partnerships, and deep community networks to streamline the process and make the project a huge success.”

This project would not have been possible without the generosity of the El Gato Channel Foundation, an organization that recognizes that reducing waste is key to addressing the plastic pollution crisis.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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