U.S. mayors vote to rethink bottled water contracts

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has passed a resolution encouraging mayors to phase out city spending on bottled water and to promote the importance of municipal water. The resolution, authored by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and sponsored by mayors from 17 major cities, aims to redirect taxpayer dollars to other essential city services. The vote comes on the heels of actions by more than 60 mayors nationwide to address the budgetary, environmental and social impact of such purchases...

MIAMI, June 23, 2008 -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution today encouraging mayors to phase out city spending on bottled water and to promote the importance of municipal water, according to a report on the event in Miami posted by OneWorld.net.

The resolution, authored by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and sponsored by mayors from 17 major cities, aims to redirect taxpayer dollars to other essential city services.

"Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "Our public water systems are among the best in the world and demand significant and ongoing investment."

The vote comes on the heels of actions by more than 60 mayors nationwide, such as cancelling bottled water contracts, to address the budgetary, environmental and social impact of such purchases (visit www.ThinkOutsideTheBottle.org for a map of city actions and facts on bottled water impacts). The cities of San Jose, Miami and Orlando announced bottled water phase-outs in the days leading up to the vote.

Over the past year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors explored the economic and environmental impact of bottled water. Research conducted by Conference staff has found that bottled water is being sold for as much as 4000 times the cost of tap water delivery even though up to 40 percent of bottled water comes from the same source.

Cities are also spending more than $70 million a year to dispose of plastic water bottles. San Francisco and other large cities were also spending more than $500,000 a year on annual contracts.

"It's just plain common sense for cities to stop padding the bottled water industry's bottom line at taxpayer expense," said Gigi Kellett, national director of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign. "This resolution will send the strong message that opting for tap over bottled water is what's best for our environment, our pocketbooks and our long-term, equitable access to our most essential resource."

Cities are currently in need of an additional $22 billion or more each year to maintain and expand public water systems. The resolution is seen as a means of rebuilding the public support needed to make this investment, in the face of an annual $150 million-plus bottled water advertising blitz that has eroded the public's confidence in tap water. Today one in five people believe the only place to get water is from a bottle.

And although the bottled water industry hired a team of lobbyists to defeat the resolution, the measure has received broad support from prominent restaurants and a range of businesses and public interest organizations nationwide as part of the national Think Outside the Bottle campaign.

The resolution encourages cities to phase out government use of bottled water, where feasible (with exceptions, such as in the case of emergencies and when safe, clean municipal water is unavailable), and to promote the importance of municipal water.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors represents more than 1100 mayors nationwide.

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Also see:
-- "Mayors urge stop to bottled water use"
-- "U.S. mayors vote against buying bottled water"
-- "IBWA: US Conference of Mayors Resolution 70 concerning municipal water systems is not in the public interest"

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