Is Bottled Water Sucking Our Public Water Supply Dry?

March 29, 2010

The following article was brought to my attention by a colleague.  It’s a provocative analysis of the impact of bottled water.   I think you will find it quite interesting.

The article can be found on the Shorebank blog.

by Sarah Ewing on March 23rd, 2010

Water, water, everywhere; nor any drop to drink! Annie Leonard’s recent The Story of Bottled Water highlights the global impact that bottled water has on the global economy. She, like many, discusses the financial, health, and environmental impacts of bottled water; however, what many overlook is the impact that bottled water could have on our own public water supply? It might be one more reason why you might consider giving up bottled water.

A 2009 E.P.A. study estimated that we need $335 billion to maintain America’s tap water system in coming decades. Why? Although we starting using plastic water pipes approximately 30 years ago, over one million miles of 50-100 year-old iron pipes (often prone to rust and leaks) still transport our water.  With a major leak occurring on average every two minutes somewhere in this country, these leaks add up to really negatively impact a cities’ budget, your health, and the global economy. Although the State of Illinois expects to distribute over $110 million in Public Water Supply Loans in 2010 to fix our public water infrastructure, maybe we can make more of an impact just by giving up bottled water.

Now, there are many reasons why you might choose to or not to drink bottled water in the United States. You might need something easily transportable; you want something with additives, like flavor or nutritional supplements; you suspect a health issue; or perhaps it is provided for you.

Give Up Bottled WaterRegardless of the ‘why,’ and excluding the additional negative environmental impact created by water bottle products and the water bottle alternatives, consider this fact – bottled water costs $0.08/oz. (assuming $1.50/20 oz.); whereas tap water costs less than $0.01/oz. (which you already pay for). 2007 stats indicate that Americans annually spent $324 on those $1.50 20-oz. bottles. Can you imagine what would happen we all donated $324 to an organization focused on improving water supply infrastructure in the U.S.? The city of Chicago alone would free up $938 million in foregone bottled water costs (using 2000 Census population data)! That is 8.5 times the amount of Public Water Supply Loans the State of Illinois plans on creating. Think of the jobs and water supply improvements that would create while minimizing negative environmental impacts.

It is a win-win situation and all it takes is giving up bottled water. Consider it.


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