Key Facts About Bottled Water

Concord Backs the Tap

1.  Bottled water is not safer than Concord’s tap water

Bottled water is much less regulated than tap water: 

  • The FDA assigns a low priority to testing bottled water (only 2.6 full-time equivalents in 2008 for the 9 billion gallons/50billion bottles sold in the US) and relies on the $15 billion industry to police itself. 
  • 60% of bottled water never falls under FDA regulation because it is bottled and sold in-state.
  • Bottled water companies are not required to publish their water quality testing results and most don’t.  
  • There have been over 100 bottled water recalls since 1990 for contaminants ranging from algae, yeast, mold and sand to filth, coliform bacteria, bromate (a suspected human carcinogen), arsenic and benzene (a known human carcinogen).  In most cases, the public was notified months after the contaminated water was found; in several cases, the public was not notified at all.
  • Concord’s tap water is highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.  Concord tests its water system continually.  Problems detected, if any, must be communicated ASAP to citizens.  Concord’s Water Department publishes an annual Water Quality Report and mails it to all households in Concord.

2.  Bottled water is much more costly than tap

  • The cost of Concord’s tap water is .0007 cents a pint (16oz.).  The cost of a pint of bottled water is $1.00.  For the price of a bottle of water, you can have 1,500 large glasses of Concord tap water.
  • It costs cities and states at least $42 million a year to dispose of plastic water bottles.  In Concord, discarded and recycled bottled water plastic adds 45 tons to Concord’s waste stream.    

 3.  Bottled water wastes precious resources

  • It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
  • The energy used to produce and transport water bottles in the US alone uses the energy equivalent of between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil each year. 
  • It can take 2,000 times the energy to produce and distribute bottled water as it does to produce and distribute tap water.

 4.  Bottled water harms the environment

  • Every year, the bottled water industry produces as much carbon dioxide as 2 million cars, contributing to global warming. 
  • Less than one-quarter of plastic water bottles are recycled.  Each year, nearly 1 million tons of plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter.  Many make their way to the oceans, adding to massive build-ups of plastic waste such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  These clumps are killing fish, birds and other forms of aquatic life. 

5.  Bottled water hurts local communities

  • The mining of water from aquifers and springs can lower the local water table, reducing stream flow, depleting aquifers, drying up water available from wells and draining wetlands. 
  • From the foothills of Mount Shasta in McCloud, California, to Adams County, Wisconsin, to Chaffee County, Colorado, to towns in Maine and New Hampshire, communities have spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars to protect their local water resources from bottled water companies.
  • In the Northeast, several Maine communities including Wells, Fryeburg and Shapleigh have sought to retain control of their local water resources as Nestle, the owner of Poland Spring, seeks to extract their water.  Barnstead and Nottingham, two communities in New Hampshire, have passed ordinances to assert local control of water resources.
  • In 2008, Nestle’s pursuit of water from the Wekepeke Reservoir in Sterling, Massachusetts was rejected by the Board of Selectmen in Clinton (which had water rights to the reservoir).

6.  Bottled water is unjust

Over 1 billion people on Earth today do not have access to safe drinking water.  Within 15 years, 2/3 of the world’s population is predicted to lack access to clean drinking water.  The World Bank has predicted that the wars of tomorrow will be fought over water. 

Enough is enough.  It’s time to take a firm stand on bottled water. 

Three states and more than 100 U.S. towns and cities have taken steps to eliminate the use of bottled water.  Eleven colleges and universities have taken steps to eliminate bottled water on their campuses.  Concord’s Bylaw will lead the way for other towns in our state and the rest of the country to take action.

 

For more information, please check out the following resources:

Food and Water Watch:  www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled

Corporate Accountability International:  www.stopcorporateabuse.org/water-campaign

Alliance for Democracy:  www.thealliancefordemocracy.org 

The Pacific Institute:  www.pacinst.org

The book “Bottled and Sold” by Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute

The movie “The Story of Bottled Water” by Annie Leonard (6 minutes) available at www.storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-bottled-water/

The movie “Tapped” (70 minutes) available at the Concord Library and on Netflix

 

*Sources for all key facts provided upon request.

 

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