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Food and Water Watch Launches National Restaurant Campaign to Take Back the Tap

March 20, 2008
11:52 AM

CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
Noelle Ferdon: 415-309-2426 or Erin Greenfield: 202-683-2457

Food & Water Watch Launches National Restaurant Campaign to Take Back the Tap
Consumer Group and City of San Francisco Mark World Water Day by Urging Restaurants to Eliminate Bottled Water

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - March 20 - Food & Water Watch kicked off its Take Back the Tap restaurant campaign in San Francisco today, joining forces with the city government to eliminate bottled water in city restaurants. The consumer advocacy group is working with cities across the nation to urge local restaurants and chefs to sign a pledge to switch to serving only municipal tap water, help educate customers about the benefits of tap over bottled water, and whenever possible, install a carbonation machine to make sparkling water from the tap.

"Bottled water is an expensive con job on consumers. Cities like San Francisco are leading the way in kicking the bottled water habit and in raising awareness that tap water is the healthiest and most cost-effective choice for consumers," stated Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “All Americans should have access to safe, affordable tap water. To make that a reality, we need Congress to create a dedicated source of funding for water infrastructure."

Food & Water Watch recently launched a new website at that provides restaurants and individuals with useful materials such as petitions, how-to guides, educational fliers, and other resources to aid restaurateurs and restaurant-goers in removing bottled water from local menus. The group’s Take Back the Tap report details why choosing tap water is better for consumers’ health, their pocketbooks, and the environment.

“Offering our guests complimentary filtered San Francisco water with their meal combines the best of generous hospitality, care for our surroundings, and authentic local flavor,” stated Mark Pastore, owner of Incanto, a restaurant that has been serving tap water since they opened in 2002. “What we sacrifice in profits by not selling bottled water, we more than make up in increased goodwill with our guests.”

Other Bay Area restaurants have also already made the move to tap water, like the world-renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley and the Italian trattoria, Delfina.

“We made the decision to serve tap water because it eliminated the need for storage and disposal of excess bottles and because San Francisco has an excellent municipal water source,” said Delfina co-owner, Craig Stoll.

Food & Water Watch is asking restaurants across the country to follow these restaurants’ lead. Santa Cruz, California; St. Louis, Missouri; New York City; and Portland, Maine are among the cities where Food & Water Watch will launch campaigns this spring and summer. But restaurant-goers need not wait for Food & Water Watch to come to their town, says Hauter. Individuals can download their Restaurant-Goers’ Guide to Taking Back the Tap for tips on how to get their favorite establishment to make the switch.

“Serving clean and affordable water from the tap is a healthy and sensible decision for businesses and their customers,” stated Hauter. “These restaurants are vital in building public support to get our representatives in Washington to commit the resources we’ll need to keep our tap water clean and safe for the next generation.”

The restaurant campaign is not the only way that Food & Water Watch is advocating for safe and affordable water for all. Food & Water Watch is working with college students around the country to end the use of bottled water on campuses and the group is leading a campaign for a federal water trust fund – a dedicated funding source to provide for maintenance of the country’s aging water infrastructure.

Hundreds of college students will gather in Washington, DC on March 22nd for a World Water Day Summit to learn about world water issues and advocate for solutions in the United States. Students will meet with their congressional representatives on Monday March 24th. More about why America needs a clean water trust fund is available on the groups website,

A press conference kicking off the San Francisco Take Back the Tap restaurant campaign will be held on March 20th, at 11:45 am at Justin Herman Plaza. Featured speakers include San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Jared Blumenfeld of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco Utilities Commission, and Wenonah Hauter of Food & Water Watch.

The World Water Day Summit is hosted by Student Movement for Real Change, Americans for Informed Democracy, Food & Water Watch, Carnegie Council's Policy Innovations, Student Campaign for Child Survival, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and the SAIS International Policy Program. World Water Day is an international day of observance on the 22nd of March that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

Please visit for more information on the Food & Water Watch campaign.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer rights group based in Washington, DC that challenges the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources. Visit


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