By Matt Thomas
Concord, MA- If you ever happen to be driving through Concord, MA on a hot afternoon and decide you’d like to stop off and grab some bottled water, you might be a little disappointed. Unless you’re Jean Hill that is.
An 84 year old woman from Concord, Mrs. Hill first became an opponent of bottled water when her 10 year old grandson informed her about the gyres in the ocean full of plastic bottles and other trash. After becoming more informed about the repercussions of bottled water along with how profitable the industry is, Mrs. Hill was inspired to spearhead the efforts to ban bottled water in her town of Concord.
On Wednesday night April 25th, the town of Concord, MA became the first municipality in the United States to ban the sales of bottled water. For the ban to officially go into effect it will still need to be approved by the attorney general.
Under terms of the ban, stores would receive a warning for the first offense, a $25 fine for the second, and $50 for each fraction after that. This could have a great impact on the expanded bottle bill, which would allow a deposit in return for bottled water, fruit drinks, iced tea and sports drinks. Currently only a deposit applies to carbonated sodas, beer, and malt beverages.
As you can imagine, there is a great deal of controversy on this verdict so it is important to know the facts. Here are some of the key issues to consider when looking into the topic of bottled water:
Water Quality- Approximately half of all bottled water is just filtered tap water including big names like Aquafina, Dasani, and Nestle Waters. When it is time for the bottles to be filled, most companies fill from public water source. Check out this list to see where companies fill up their bottles, and you’ll see how few are from a pure forest spring or a cold mountaintop pond.
Regulation- It is extremely important to note that in many cases tap water is much more regulated than bottled water. In the year 1976, The Safe Drinking Water Act was put into place on a federal level to ensure safe drinking water for the public. This law requires all public water systems to provide reports to the public about the water’s source, evidence of contaminants, and compliance with regulations. The EPA also requires water testing by certified laboratories and that all violations be reported in a specific timeframe. I can tell you that the first lesson I was ever taught in my Water Operator training course was that it was our duty to ensure safe drinking water all the way to the tap. Bottled water is treated as a food by the FDA, which means that ZERO of the regulations just stated are mandatory for bottled water to comply with except during interstate commerce.
Economic- The average household spends about $1000 on bottled water every year. If that one family invested in just 4 reusable water bottles at $5 each, the household would save a total of $980 in that first year.
Ecological- Most people are already aware that bottled water isn’t Mother Nature’s best friend, but here are some eye opening statistics:
- Only 27% of plastic bottles are recycled.
- Bottled water bottles use 17 million gallons of crude oil annually.
- Thousands of tons of transportation related pollution results every year in bottled water shipment.
- It takes 3 liters of water just to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
- The size of the Pacific Gyre, an accumulation of trash in the Pacific Ocean, is larger than the state of Texas.
Emergency- It’s pretty difficult to deny the effectiveness of bottled water in certain emergency situations. Maybe one day there will be enough water filling stations where bottled water won’t be as needed in emergency circumstances, but for now it makes sense. Concord’s municipality took this into consideration as well by allowing the ban to be lifted during emergencies.
The issue of bottled water is one that isn’t going to sleep anytime soon. By passing this law, Concord made a statement that will undoubtably create a ripple effect into other communities who are considering the ban. This type of coverage goes beyond Concord’s “footprint’ as it challenges the every day consumer to think twice about what they are buying and how it could effect both their environment and wallet.