Happy, Healthy, and Hydrated Whales! by Sonja Wassgren Morgan Mar 7, 2019 Member Submitted News LAGUNA BEACH – Smiling faces gathered around the shiny new water bottle filling station at Richard Henry Dana Elementary school (the home of the Whales). A young girl with a broad smile and braces held in her hand a gleaming white reusable (refillable) aluminum bottle emblazed with “Every Drop Counts.” After waiting her turn, she scurried out of the way to let the other children, who were patiently lined up, fill up. She screwed on the black plastic lid with a harbinger attached allowing her to hook the new bottle to her backpack for easy access and transportation. RH Dana recently became the South Coast Water District’s (SCWD) first school to receive a Murdock water fountain. The unit comes with two traditional water fountains and one water bottle filler. It is also accessible to students with physical disabilities. “A water bottle filling station can help to increase students’ overall water consumption and maintain hydration,” explained SCWD General Manager Rick Shintaku. Better hydration translates to better health for our children. The idea first came to Shintaku and SCWD Public Information Officer, Sonja Morgan, when they learned that schools in the service area sell bottled and boxed water to students every day. “Selling bottled water sends a mixed message to kids,” observed SCWD President Bill Green.“Tap water is a safe, quality alternative to drinking bottled water. It costs much less at just pennies per gallon and protects our ocean environment.” By providing each student with a reusable water bottle, we can help remove plastic from our environment,” added SCWD Board member and an RH Dana alumnus Rick Erkeneff. “Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade and can kill mammals in the ocean habitat just off our beautiful beaches.” When a young sperm whale washed up on a Spanish beach last year, 64 pounds of plastic was found in his stomach. “Everyone is so excited around here, we love it,” exclaimed Principal Kristen Nelson. “The kids love the drinking fountain, and I see parents filling up water bottles to take home with them.” The school also intends to use it to expand their environmental awareness education for the children. South Coast Water District has already purchased another fountain that it will install in another local school and hopes to expand the program to other important community locations. For more information on your water quality visit South Coast Water District’s website at www.scwd.org. South Coast Water District was established in 1932. The District currently serves most of Dana Point, South Laguna Beach, and parts of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. District facilities include 15 reservoirs, 147 miles of water lines, 136 miles of sewer lines, seven water pumping stations, 14 sewer pumping stations, and approximately 12,360 water meters. An elected five-member Board of Directors governs the District. Learn more at www.scwd.org, or find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.