UBC Undergraduate Research

A bottled water free Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games : developing sustainable tap water solutions : final report Chang, Judy Li-Hsin; Tung, Yi-Jiun (Phoebe); Vora, Dhavan; Zhao, Jessica Nan


The University of British Columbia (UBC) will be hosting the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games from July 8-12th. This event will feature up to 2,000 athletes, coaches and officials from across Canada and will attract around 5,000 – 10,000 public spectators. Typically, bottled water is a common sight at sporting events despite its significant environmental footprint and unsubstantiated health benefits relative to tap water. Both the Games Organizing Committee and UBC, value sustainable water usage and waste management as a key sustainability goal; as a result, the 2014 Summer Games will strive to be a bottled water free event. The objective of this SEEDS project is to develop and evaluate alternatives to bottled water use by developing tap water distribution plans for each sporting venue. Each proposed solution was assessed based on social, economic, and environmental factors to determine the most sustainable and effective method of distributing tap water during the event. In addition, a nation-wide survey was conducted with athletes, coaches, Chefs and mission staff to identify potential social barriers to implementing our plan. Effective methods of promoting the event were also considered. If successful, our proposal can be used as a standard for future sporting events on campus and further UBC efforts in becoming a "zero waste" and “bottled water free” campus. The final evaluation of our proposed options found that no single water solution was best for every venue. For indoor venues, portable water containers seemed to be the best solution where the number of such containers will depend on the sporting event and venue. For outdoor venues there is a possibility of bringing third party organizers to supply portable water stations; however, some were financially unfeasible while others depend on availability. Each option's proposed plan for water distribution source was refined after our survey highlighted that the main concern of tap water was availability. Lastly, our survey showed that close to 98% of respondents believed in the Games Organizing Committee’s ability to provide quality tap water, where some of the respondents do not trust the quality of Vancouver’s drinking water. Thus, we do not foresee any major barriers to implement these plans since most participants are familiar with drinking tap water from previous games and practices.Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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