UBC Graduate Research

Aesthetic Assessment of Drinking Water at UBC: A Comparison of Waterfillz and Tap Water Bailey, Sam; Robinson, Shona


At UBC campus, there are two options for public access to drinking water: taps on the municipal water supply, and re-treated municipal tap water from designated dispensing machines. The machines, called Waterfillz stations, were designed to further filter, disinfect and chill drinking water. A foreseeable advantage to Waterfillz over tap water could be the aesthetic quality of the product. To determine whether Waterfillz or tap water is aesthetically superior, four aesthetic parameters were measured: temperature, total chlorine, heterotrophic plate count, and total organic carbon. Temperature and chlorine are commonly cited aesthetic factors, while heterotrophic plate count and total organic carbon have potential aesthetic implications. It was found that the temperature and heterotrophic plate count of the water increase from tap to Waterfillz, while chlorine and total organic carbon content decrease. As individual aesthetic preferences differ, these observations may be used to inform consumer decisions. As a secondary objective, the quality parameters were considered with respect to the extent of use for each station. Significant effects with use were observed for heterotrophic plate count, and total organic carbon: both observed effects were less pronounced for machines in heavier use.

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