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Tap Water - A Clear Choice

Tap vs. bottled

The production and consumption of bottled water continues to increase globally, with the United States of America being the leading consumer. This increase is due in large part to successful marketing campaigns which promote the concept that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water. This is not necessarily true. According to a four-year study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one-third of the bottled water tested had some contaminants exceeded allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines. Also, a key NRDC finding is that bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety. In fact, tap water is subjected to more rigorous testing and purity standards than bottled water.

Environmental impact

"American consumption (in 2006) required more than 17 million barrels of oil."

In addition to the misconception about health benefits, there are other, more serious, problems associated with the production and consumption of bottled water. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans bought a total of 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006. The Pacific Institute estimated that producing the bottles for bottled water required more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation. Bottling the water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Once the bottled water is produced and consumed, the plastic bottle must be disposed of, which results in even more issues for our environment. The Container Recycling Institute reports that 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating the used bottles produces toxic byproducts, and the buried water bottles in landfill can take up to 1,000 years to be broken down. For those who think recycling is the answer, almost 40 percent of the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles that were deposited for recycling in the United States in 2004 were actually exported, sometimes to as far away as China, thus requiring additional resources to be used by this product.

Taking action

The impact of the production and consumption of bottled water on our resources and environment cannot be denied or ignored. To address this issue, the District is prohibiting the purchase of bottled water with district funds. By doing so it will be promoting the consumption of tap water, setting an environmental example, and reaffirming its commitment to providing a healthy, safe, reliable supply of water.