Diane Birkbeck explains how to use the system to Margate Community Farmers Market Manager June Martin.

MARGATE – In an effort to reduce the number of plastic water bottles flooding the waste stream, Downbeach green teams and community organizers gathered at Steve & Cookies By The Bay Tuesday night for the launch of a new apparatus that will encourage festival goers to bring their own reusable water bottles to gatherings on Absecon Island.

The first events to employ the new Water Well by Aquafil US will be during a cleanup along Wellington Avenue on Saturday, April 27 and the next day at the annual Earth Day Festival at the ACUA Environmental Park in Egg Harbor Township. But it was on display Tuesday evening for local green teams and organizations to reserve for their community and sporting events and concerts.

Ventnor Green Team President Diane Birkbeck applied for a grant to fund the purchase of the environmentally-friendly water dispenser in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. Sustainable Downbeach was awarded a $4,500 Sustainable Jersey Hub grant to fund the purchase of the portable water filtration system and five filters. The apparatus is available for use at local events, Birkbeck said.

“The more it is used, the better it will be for everyone,” she said, touting the WaterWall’s portability and ease of use. “The more it is used, there will be less plastic, less recycling and we will have a cleaner environment.”

The unit will be housed at the Ventnor City Fire Department for loan to community organizations.

“We hope they will use it and distribute reusable water bottles or ask people to use their own,” Birkbeck said. “Ventnor, Margate and Longport have first dibs on using it, but if it’s available other green teams can borrow it. The whole idea is educating the public and hopefully people will see it, use it and help the environment.”

Birkbeck said the unit cost $3,700, The filters were $200 each, but each one is likely to last an entire summer season.

“Each one filters 95,000 gallons of water,” Birkbeck said.

From left, Sustainable Downbeach members Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo, Beth Kwart of Surfrider Foundation, Monica Coffey, Diane Birkbeck and Steve Jasiecki.

She demonstrated how simple it is to operate. Just attach the hose to a municipal water supply and fill up a resuable bottle. The water is filtered to remove any impurities that might be in the water and helps to improve taste. The apparatus has two spigots, one at the top and another lower on the tower that is handicapped accessible. The unit comes with a colorful graphics panel that creates awareness and promotes environmental sustainability.

The WaterWall will be used at the Ventnor City and Margate Community Farmers Markets this summer, and at other local community events, such as Beachstock, VBA Concerts on the beach and at the Fall Fun Fest.

For more information, see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.

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