The taps are turning

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities must be commended for resolving to phase out bottled water at their facilities. Municipal water took a hit after the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, in 2000. That widely reported municipal screwup did much

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities must be commended for resolving to phase out bottled water at their facilities.

Municipal water took a hit after the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, in 2000.

That widely reported municipal screwup did much to push people towards bottled water and away from the stuff coming out of their household taps and water fountains.

Whether deserved or not, in the wake of that scandal, Coke, Pepsi and other corporations had more public trust than the local village, town or city government.

And so, today, more than one-third of Canadians use bottled water for their daily hydration needs, compared to only a handful 20 years ago.

As a result, North Americans who choose to drink bottled water for their daily requirements are paying up to $1,400 a year. Drinking that much municipal tap water would cost a person less than 75 cents.

It doesn’t make sense, but there you go.

Besides training people to buy something that they can have essentially for free, bottled water is also stupidly wasteful.

The Washington-based Earth Policy Institute estimates it takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture the disposable water bottles used by North Americans every year.

Then that water has to be bottled and trucked to its destination, burning more oil.

If you pitched this as a new business venture, you couldn’t get investors – I want to truck water 2,000 kilometres to the Yukon to sell it to people who already have it piped into their homes for free.

It is insane.

But it gets better.

After the water is consumed, the bottles are either disposed of in our landfill – a cost to the municipality and, ultimately, its citizens.

Or, the bottles are recycled, which entails trucking them back down south, burning more oil (a nonrenewable resource that, through its extraction, is endangering our fresh water supplies while contributing to global warming.)

It is, frankly, nuts.

Across the country, municipalities are now working to get bottled water out of their buildings - again, a cost to the citizenry - and to promote the use of public water, which, ironically, is better regulated, and hence safer, than the stuff sold by the bottled water industry.

Canada’s civic leaders deserve credit for finally stepping up and leading by example. (Richard Mostyn)

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