Sinclair Community College, the city of Dayton and Montgomery County are part of a pilot program to test an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic bottled water.
An Israeli start-up company unveiled today three smart water stations at Sinclair, a first step toward expanding its services stateside and a milestone for a trade alliance between the Dayton region and the Middle Eastern nation.
Woosh, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, is installing three touch-screen stations that allow users to clean and fill water bottles and containers for a fraction of the price of buying bottled water. This will be the company’s first venture into the United States.
In addition to the college, Dayton and Montgomery County also will get Woosh stations, likely in about a month. The jurisdictions each have approved spending $25,000 to participate in the pilot program.
If the business model proves successful, Woosh will relocate its manufacturing operations to Dayton and will expand its network of smart water stations to other U.S. markets, said Itay Tayas Zamir, co-founder and CEO of the company.
“What we are trying to understand is how to convince people to stop buying the next bottle of water,” he said. “It’s saving the environment, but it’s also saving money.”
Sinclair Community College will be a testing site for Woosh water stations. The stations will be installed at three locations, including outside of the college’s cafeteria areas. Woosh was formed in 2009.
Sinclair students will be able to use the stations’ services with their Tartan cards. Everyone else can use the devices with a swipe of their credit or debit cards.
The water stations have a purification system that dispenses chilled water for about 50 cents to 75 cents, depending on the size of the container. Users can rinse out their containers for an additional 10 cents.
The cleansing feature removes the odor of old or previously used water bottles. The sanitation system ensures the water tastes crisp and refreshing, Tayas Zamir said.
The Woosh stations are high-tech machines that are futuristic looking and only take seconds to use.
The touch-screen displays tell users how much money they’ve saved by not buying bottled water.
Pocketbook considerations are part of the appeal, but conservation and sustainability are perhaps the most marketable aspects of Woosh’s services.
On a per capita basis, every American drank about 34.2 gallons of bottled water in 2014, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Woosh stations provide eco-feedback, telling users how many plastic water bottles have been saved because of the refill services. They also share information about their contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
Sinclair has students on campus for long periods, and the school must provide them with certain resources, especially since there is no housing on campus, said Adam Murka, a Sinclair spokesman.
Woosh will help students stay hydrated, and it does this in a sustainable way, which is important to the school and many students, he said.
“We are always looking to integrate technology into campus operations in a sustainable way,” he said.
Tayas Zamir said his seven-person company will spend six months to a year studying consumer usage and trends of the stations to determine market feasibility.
Tayas Zamir said his goal is to make the city of Dayton Woosh’s company’s production headquarters.
“The moment we get to a volume of stations to be cost-effective, we’ll move manufacturing from Israel to Dayton,” he said.
The Dayton Regional Israel Trade Alliance (DRITA) was established in 2010 to form business relationships and increase trade between the partners.
A group of local delegates visited Tel Aviv in 2013, and that’s when Tayas Zamir met with Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, Dayton’s then-assistant city manager Shelley Dickstein and other civic representatives.
Tayas Zamir said he visited Dayton a few months later, and efforts to bring Woosh to Dayton has been in the works ever since.