The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has passed a resolution to urge cities to ban bottled water. As I mentioned last Wednesday, the environmental impact of bottled water is two-fold. Not only does it use a massive amount of plastic, it also depletes aquifers and generally threatens safe water supplies. The Canadian Bottled Water Association, the industry’s trade association, is not impressed, claiming that they were not consulted. Funny how they care so little about this resolution that they didn’t even release a press release
Closer to home, Oak Bay Councillor and chairman of the CRD’s water committee Nils Jensen noted that the Oak Bay council already uses a carafe with tap water. The last time I was at Oak Bay Recreation Centre, there was definitely still bottled water for sale there. Nor has any councillor raised the issue at any meeting. Hopefully Nils or one of the other council members will have the guts to suggest such a ban.
Late last year Toronto decided to ban sales of bottled water on city property, it the latest in a long series of municipalities that have banned bottled water sales. This Saturday here in Victoria the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is voting on a voluntary policy to urge all municipalities to ban bottled water. Much like the recent motion passed by the Oak Bay Council involving the replacing of plastic bags with biodegradable ones, nothing in the motion forces anybody to do anything. But coupled with the recent drop in bottled water sales, this is promising news.
Plastic is among the most damaging material we produce because it isn’t biodegradable. Worst than that, it breaks down into little tiny pellets that choke living systems, filling bird and fish stomachs, causing them to slowly starve to death. Of course, not everybody agrees with this. Save the Plastic Bag presents the alternative view. Too bad they don’t tell you who funds them.
Beyond the issue of the plastic packaging, in a water-scarce world, the wisdom of moving large amounts of water vast differences is questionable at best. The Wikipedia article on bottled water documents a few of these problems. Of course, the irony is that by 1999 25% of the bottled water sold was Coke’s Dasani or Pepsi’s Aquafina, which both are rebottled municipal water. This little white lie bit Coke badly in 2004, when they had to pull Dasani off the shelves in Britian due to illegally high bromate levels. This led to the joke that only Coke could take Thames water and make it less drinkable.
Whether or not this FCM motion has any affect in the Greater Victoria region remains to be seen. I truly hope that it does but I am not holding my breath. Watch the CRD and the municipalities to pass the buck back and forth for awhile before anything gets done.