From the Town of Great Barrington

Funding for the purchase and installation of three public water stations in town is now in place, a key hurdle in finalizing the town's ban on the sale of non-recyclable, single-use PET plastic water bottles of one liter or less.

Funds were raised privately by the Environmental Committee of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group. This group also led the bottle ban bylaw initiative, which was affirmed by a majority of voters at two town meetings last year. Funds for one filling station came from multiple donors; two anonymous donors have committed to fund two others.

"The Selectboard is so pleased with the grass-roots fundraising effort to support this initiative," said Stephen Bannon, board chair. "We have given the go-ahead to the town's DPW superintendent to begin the purchase and installation of the stations outside Mason Library, Town Hall and at Housatonic Community Center."

Great Barrington was the second town in the state to adopt such a ban, following the town of Concord, in an effort to reduce plastic waste, especially non-recyclable waste.

The Housatonic station, affixed to the outside of the Housatonic Community Center building will attach to an interior filtration system due to periodic water quality concerns in the village. The stations at Town Hall and the Mason Library will be free-standing; all will operate during three seasons but not during the coldest winter months.

The ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles went into effect Jan. 1, 2019, but the town has held off on compliance enforcement until public water stations are completed.

The board set a May 2020 enforcement date, but Bannon said that date will be reviewed once water station installations are operational sometime this summer. However, the town urges business throughout town to proactively comply if they have not yet done so.

So far, 28 stores have signed on to the “GB on Tap” program. These stores display a “GB on Tap” in their windows and have agreed to fill customers’ re-usable bottles upon request.

The town will expand its outreach and education about the water bottle ban in coming weeks, in advance of the summer visitor season.