State governments are spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year to buy bottled water. Be it water coolers by the copier or plastic bottles at state events, our elected leaders are choosing the bottle over the tap.
Wouldn't you agree that this sends the wrong message? After all, about half the time bottled water comes from the very same source as the tap. What’s more, the tap is more highly regulated for quality and safety.
We've made great progress working with New York, Colorado and Illinois: all have cut the flow of taxpayer dollars to bottled water. And more than 1,200 cities from Boston to St. Louis to San Francisco have resolved to end spending on bottled water. Now it's time for our governors to do the same.
Every governor is looking for ways to cut state spending. Now is the time to remind them of the simple solutions that are good for our pocketbooks, environment and public water systems.
The industry promotes bottled water in ways that undermine public water, and does everything it can to keep government contracts. But, while spending scarce dollars on bottled water is a sinkhole, every dollar invested in the tap generates six for the national economy at large.
It is time to restore the nation's confidence in the tap. Please send an email to your governor urging him/her to Think Outside the Bottle.
As we work to stimulate our economy, spending taxpayer money on bottled water is a misallocation of limited resources. For example, in 2007 the city of San Francisco audited its spending on bottled water and found that it was spending nearly $500,000 each year, leading Mayor Newsom to cancel all city-spending on bottled water. Furthermore, bottled water undermines confidence in our public water supply and pollutes the environment. The energy used to produce and transport water bottles in the U.S. alone uses the energy equivalent of up to 54 million barrels of oil each year. That’s enough energy to fuel roughly three million cars for a year. Over 80 percent of these bottles end up incinerated, buried in our landfills or are discarded on our roadways or in our waterways as litter.
Governor, I want to extend the opportunity for you to become a local and national leader on this issue by ending state contracts with bottled water suppliers, promoting public water systems across the state, and advocating for a renewed national commitment to water infrastructure funding.
I hope you have followed the recent national attention on the negative impacts of bottled water and the growing concern about of the privatization of our water. Increasing numbers of cities, restaurants, institutions, and individuals are turning back to the tap and away from expensive, branded bottled water. The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution at their 2008 annual meeting encouraging cities across the country to phase out government use of bottled water and promote the importance of strong public water systems. Already, more than 125 major cities have responded to these calls to action and have taken common sense actions to protect the environment, save money, and restore confidence in our public water supplies. I am eager to see similar actions taken at the state level.
Recent studies show that government spending on public water systems pays huge dividends for our economy. Public water systems are the backbone of our country’s infrastructure, public health and economic prosperity – it’s time we start nurturing them. Yet, last year, the American public spent more than $15 billion buying bottled water. This at a time when our public water systems are in need of increased public support, facing at least an annual $23 billion shortfall between what these systems require and what is allocated.
As our state’s leading public official, I ask that you issue a policy to end state spending on bottled water to signify your support for strong public water systems and work with the Think Outside the Bottle campaign to advocate for more funding for public water systems. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.