COAST CITIES — Olivenhain Municipal Water Disrict awarded its annual $300 prize for a water-related project in the Greater San Diego Science Fair to Natalie Evans, an eighth-grade student at St. Columba School. Evans, a Carlsbad resident, chose to research the reuse of bottled water containers and the ill effects of doing so.
Robert Topolovac, vice president of the water district board, volunteered as a judge at this year’s science fair. He was impressed with Evans’ project, presentation and demeanor, and selected her as the recipient of Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Water in Science award.
As the ecology chairperson of her school, Evans is aware of student choices and noticed an increase in the practice of reusing water bottles. “Because of this recession, many Americans are trying to save money and preserve the earth, but I wanted to find out how safe the practice of reusing water bottles is,” Evans said.
Utilizing 20 unopened bottled water containers, tap water and testing equipment, four environments were monitored over a 48-hour period. Each bottle was sipped from, tested after 24 hours, refilled and tested again after another 24-hour period. Evans had hypothesized that storage in a vehicle overnight would yield the highest bacteria growth; however, she found that all environments showed an increase in bacteria levels with room temperature storage having the highest level. Evans determined that using a liquid container that can be washed and filled with tap water when needed may be a better choice. An added benefit is that tap water in general is held to stricter water quality standards than bottled water.