Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mayors vs. bottled water at boiling point

A committee decision throwing the U.S. Conference of Mayors' weight behind a move to discourage use of bottled water has predictably received return fire from the American Beverage Association.

The trade organization of manufacturers and distributors of non-alcoholic drinks has criticized the resolution as “sound-bite environmentalism.” It was passed at a Miami meeting of the mayors by a small majority after heated debate and is intended to phase out city spending on bottled water and an attempt to reduce purchases of the beverage.

The contention by the Conference of Mayors is that bottled water wastes water and leaves an unnecessarily large carbon footprint.

“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, who proposed the resolution. “Our public water systems are among the best in the world and demand significant and ongoing investment.”

Kevin Keane, a senior vice president of the American Beverage Association, fired back: “Unfortunately, a group of mayors have chosen to engage in sound-bite environmentalism rather than sound public policy by creating a false choice between bottled water and tap water. It’s disappointing that some mayors find it more important to attack a healthy beverage at a time when families are suffering from floods, rising fuel and gas costs and threats to their homes and jobs.

“This proposal is the cynical equivalent of being against rope until you need a lifeline,” Keane said. “There’s great irony in the fact that while companies are helping mayors in flood-ravaged communities in the Midwest recover, a handful of mayors in Miami are attacking the water products helping those residents remain hydrated and in good health.”

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