Bottled Water Companies Unfairly and Inequitably Targeted by Mayors


lexandria, VA — The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) today passed Resolution 62, misleadingly titled “Ensuring Fair and Equitable Use of and Compensation for Municipal Water Systems,” at its annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

The resolution sets a one-year period to conduct a “study” to measure the amount of tap water specifically used by bottled water companies (prior to further purification) and “how cities can be appropriately compensated for that use.” according to the resolution. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and its member bottling companies support a strong, U.S. municipal water infrastructure. However, the USCM resolution is not in the public interest. “By singling-out bottled water, which is a very small user of the public water system, USCM fails to address the totality of the water infrastructure challenges, which should be everyone’s responsibility,” said Tom Lauria, vice president of communications at IBWA.

Thousands of companies use municipal water systems in their businesses. At present, all commercial municipal public water system users pay a pre-determined rate for the use of water in manufacturing, energy production, food and beverage production, sanitation, and myriad other uses.

USCM Resolution 62 also erroneously claims “bottled water is a non-essential use of an essential shared public resource.” Bottled water is a safe, healthy beverage that consumers find refreshing and use to stay hydrated. Be it from the tap or a bottle, water used for primary human hydration is the essence of life. Efforts by some mayors to discourage the use of bottled water are not the public interest.

Resolution 62 also fails to point out that bottled water produced from municipal water sources must, for example, meet FDA’s specific definitions and standards. No public water system meets the FDA standards for purified water (one of the most common bottled water types made with municipal sourcing) without further purification and treatment.

The issue of bottled water was also considered by the USCM last year. In fact, Mayor Don Robart of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who is vice chair of the USCM’s Environmental Committee with oversight of Resolution 62, stated at the USCM’s 2008 meeting that “[b]ottled water does not in any way burden the public water infrastructure and, comprising 1/80th of 1 percent of municipal water use, is simply one of thousands of legitimate uses of public water. .”

Also at the 2008 USCM meeting, Mayor Robart and Mayor Patrick McCrory of Charlotte, North Carolina, submitted a resolution that stated: “The U.S. Conference of Mayors recommends to its members that municipal water systems seek to work in a coalition with a broad range of interests to develop fair and equitable policies and rate structures to renew the nation’s water infrastructure and ensure the safe and efficient treatment of distribution of water to private and commercial customers.” Although their resolution was not adopted, the two mayors offered a clear and coherent roadmap to provide for a much-needed overhaul of the U.S. water and sewer infrastructure.

IBWA supports comprehensive environmental conservation policies but strongly believes that any efforts to protect and rebuilding the U.S. water infrastructure must focus on all industries and consumer goods, and not just one industry.