Share of Popular Bottled Water from Municipal Supplies Up 50 Percent

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Much movement in the right direction is thanks to groups like Food and Water Watch and American Farmland Trust. (in No Turkeys Here)
Mark Bittman
August 12th, 2010

Share of Popular Bottled Water from Municipal Supplies Up 50 Percent



Food & Water Watch Analysis Reveals Uptick in Sourcing from Taxpayer-Supported Water Supplies

Washington, D.C.—New analysis of industry data released today by the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch finds that almost half of all bottled water sold in U.S. retail outlets in PET plastic bottles now comes from municipal tap water supplies. Bottling Our Cities’ Tap Water shows that between 2000 and 2009 the share of retail-sold PET bottled water that is actually tap water grew from 32.7 percent to 47.8 percent.

The data also reveals that the volume of tap water bottled in PET and sold in retail outlets increased almost twice as fast as that of spring water over the same period. In 2000, 449.3 million gallons of tap water were bottled, increasing 453 percent to 2.5 billion gallons in 2009. Over that same time, the volume of spring water bottled grew 194 percent from 922.8 million gallons to 2.7 billion gallons.

“These are the numbers the bottled water industry doesn’t want you to see,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “These figures reveal that more and more bottled water is basically the same product the flows from consumer taps, subsidized by taxpayer dollars—then poured into an environmentally destructive package, and sold for thousands of times its actual value.”

The industry data attributes the increase in tap water in retail-sold PET bottled water to Nestle Pure Life’s switch from spring water to tap water in 2005. The company increased expenditures on advertising for Nestle Pure Life by 3,000 percent between 2004 and 2009, and sales of the brand were up by 18 percent in 2009.

While community resistance to spring water and ground water extraction has increased in recent years, many municipalities have brokered deals with bottled water companies to sell off water supplies allocated for future growth or times of drought in exchange for the promise of jobs or increased tax revenues. Separate analysis conducted by Food & Water Watch found that the typical bottled water plant employs only 24 people.

Bottling Our Cities’ Tap Water is available here.

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500; kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
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