VNRC Urges Vermonters to “Take Back the Tap”
Environmental Concerns with Bottled Water
June 28, 2007
Montpelier– Choosing tap water over bottled water is better for consumers’ health, their pocketbooks, and the environment, according to a new report written by the Washington, DC-based Food & Water Watch. Today, Food & Water Watch’s Vermont partners – the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermonters for a Clean Environment – released this report, stressing its findings were important for Vermonters.
“As this report makes so clear, bottled water isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” said Jon Groveman, VNRC’s Water Program Director. “The report’s research and analysis reinforce our belief that there are many reasons why people should drink tap water instead of commercial bottled water, not the least of which is a concern for natural resources.”
In 2005, Americans spent $8.8 billion for almost 7.2 billion gallons of non-sparkling bottled water. In 2006, they drank even more, about 26 gallons per person. The bottled water industry spends billions on advertising that promises purity in a bottle while implying that tap water is somehow less safe, something that is simply not true, according to the report.
“Bottled water generally is no cleaner, or safer, or healthier than tap water. In fact, the federal government requires far more rigorous and frequent safety testing and monitoring of municipal drinking water,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Rather than buying into this myth of purity in a bottle, consumers should drink from the tap.”
“Anyone who reads this report will ask themselves, ‘What am I really paying for?’” said Matt Levin, VCE’s Outreach and Development Director. “The promises of the bottled water industry are too often a myth. Vermonters are smart shoppers, and we hope that this report encourages them to ask hard questions when they reach for a bottle of water off the store shelf.”
Besides the purity myth, Groveman noted there are impacts of the production side of the bottled water industry. “Extracting water from the ground, bottling it and shipping it miles away takes a huge amount of fuel and energy and the water is lost forever from its home watershed,” Groveman said. “Vermonters should save the state’s precious groundwater for important uses like local, public drinking water and for food crop production.”
Among the facts highlighted in the report —Take Back the Tap — are the following:
- Bottled water costs hundreds or thousands of times more than tap water. Compare $0.002 per gallon for most tap water to a range of $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon for bottled waters.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates only the 30 to 40 percent of bottled water sold across state lines.
- The Environmental Protection Agency requires up to several hundred water tests per month by utility companies while the FDA requires only one water test per week by bottling companies.
- Nearly 40 percent of bottled water is simply filtered or treated tap water.
- U.S. plastic bottle production requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 cars.
- About 86 percent of the empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage instead of being recycled.
The report’s release comes amid increasing debate in Vermont over groundwater. Legislative efforts to devise a comprehensive plan for water use and protection continue to advance. Simultaneously, a proposal is on the table in East Montpelier to withdraw many thousands of gallons of groundwater from a local spring to bottle and sell the resource commercially.
VNRC and VCE are working with Food & Water Watch and other consumer-interest organizations to encourage people in Vermont and across the United States to Take Back the Tap and reconsider the rush to bottled water consumption. These organizations advocate for choosing tap water over bottled water whenever possible and support increased funding for public water supplies as a critical component of ensuring safe and affordable drinking water for all.
Read the report here.
Individuals can pledge to Take Back the Tap here.
The Vermont Natural Resources Council is an independent, nonprofit research, education, and advocacy organization founded in 1963 to protect Vermont’s environment, economy, and quality of life.
Vermonters for a Clean Environment is a statewide non-profit organization made up of Vermonters who believe that Vermont’s economic growth depends on its environmental health and that corporations should be held accountable for their environmental impacts. Visit www.vce.org.
About Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer rights group based in Washington, D.C. that challenges the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources. Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.