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The head of Ryerson University has pledged to phase out bottled water and invest in new drinking fountains. University president Sheldon Levy signed a declaration to mark March 11, Bottled Water Free Day.

Ryerson is the first Ontario campus to take the plunge, joining the University of Winnipeg, University Brandon, Manitoba and Memorial University in Newfoundland in promoting public water. The declaration calls for “increased investment in water fountains while phasing-out bottled water provided and sold on campus by 2013.”

The campaign was spearheaded by the campus Green Action Group, along with the Ryerson Students’ Union and Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson. Leaders of the two students’ unions co-signed the university declaration.

The pro-public movement has been building on campus for several years. In 2008 the Working Students’ Centre took a stand against the bottled water industry’s plans to “privatize and make exclusive what is now a public resource available to all, regardless of status.”

CUPE has endorsed Bottled Water Free Day as a way for workers and students on campus to take back their taps and fountains. You don’t have to be based on campus to take the tap water pledge.

March is a month of water activism, with momentum building for World Water Day activities, planned across the country for March 22. Bottled Water Free Day is a joint project of the Canadian Federation of Students, the Sierra Youth Coalition and the Polaris Institute.