Sunday, July 08, 2007

Your Water, Your Rights, Your Future

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Releases Report About Problems with Bottled Water

Choosing tap water over bottled water is better for consumers’ health, their pocketbooks, and the environment, according to a new report written by Food & Water Watch and released today by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation who has been battling the spring water bottled giant NestlĂ© Waters North America (Ice Mountain) for over six years.

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.”

In the trial of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v Nestle Waters North America, the taking of spring water by Nestle, Ice Mountain, is diminishing the flow and level of a stream and two lakes, and reducing the stream width according to the Mecosta County Circuit Court. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's factual findings and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is awaiting an opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court. When you drink bottled spring water, you are drinking water that would feed the headwaters of a stream. “Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is hoping that other cities in Michigan follow Ann Arbor's lead after it adopted 'The Resolution to Drink Tap Water' on June 6, 2007 and promote drinking tap water,” said Terry Swier, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Among the facts highlighted in Food & Water Watch’s 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 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.

    But just kicking the bottle in favor of the tap is not enough, says Food & Water Watch. Our nation’s public water and sewer infrastructure is old and in the coming years will need billions of dollars of investment to maintain and further improve treatment, storage, and distribution. Each year we fall more than $20 billion short of what is needed to maintain our public water and sewage systems.

    “It’s time for Congress to establish a clean water trust fund that would give communities the financial help they need to invest in healthy and safe drinking water for every American and for future generations,” Hauter said.

    Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation joined Food & Water Watch to encourage consumers in Michigan and across the United States to take back the tap by choosing tap water over bottled water whenever possible and supporting increased funding for safe and affordable public tap water.

    The report is posted at

    Individuals can pledge to Take Back the Tap at

    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

    Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is a nonprofit group based in Mecosta, MI organized to conserve, preserve, and protect Michigan’s natural water resources and the public trust in those natural resources. Find them at
  • 1 comment:

    Tom Chandler said...

    Great post. We've been fighting Nestle's proposed new million-square foot bottling plant out here in the mountains of Northern California (McCloud).

    They're a predatory company, and I hope rural areas rich in fresh water learn to protect their resources before these guys decide to tap them...