For Immediate Release
Food & Water Watch Supports Senate Bill 790 Requiring Disclosure of Contamination in Bottled Water:
Executive Director Wenonah Hauter To Testify Before Subcommittee, Call for Increased Investment in Public Water Infrastructure
WASHINGTON - Today
the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and
Water Quality will hear testimony on SB 790, which amends the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require manufacturers of bottled water
to submit annual reports about contamination. Wenonah Hauter, executive
director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch will
testify to the subcommittee about the environmental, economic and
equity issues associated with bottled water and to call for increased
funding in public drinking and wastewater infrastructure.
"Every year, U.S. consumers spend over $8.8 billion on bottled water
yet they have been mislead about the benefits of bottled water," said
Hauter. "They have bought into the myth created by the beverage
industry's marketing magic that water in a bottle is safer and
healthier than tap water. It is not."
Tap water is highly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water act by the
Environmental Protection Agency. EPA requires that water systems
serving more than one million residents test 300 water samples per
month, while utilities serving three million people or more must
collect and test 480 samples monthly. Unlike the bottled water
industry, which does not have to inform consumers of testing results,
utilities are required to make their testing results available to
Moreover, the bottled water industry has left a sizable carbon footprint on modern American society:
- More than 25 billion plastic water bottles are sold each year in the United States.
More than 17 million barrels of oil (not including fuel for transportation) were used in plastic bottle production.
Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
The total amount of energy used to produce, transport, refrigerate
and dispose of a plastic bottle of water may be as high as the
equivalent of filling a 33-ounce bottle one-quarter full of oil.
About 86% of the empty plastic water bottles in the U.S end up in landfills rather then being recycled.
The bottling of water for commercial purposes is taxing on the
communities water is taken from as well. Extracting water damages
regional water supplies and ecosystems and by extension the
activities-agriculture, tourism and domestic that depend on that water
for sustenance. Bottled water companies often use the promise of new
jobs to convince communities to let them open new bottling facilities.
In reality, these jobs are low-paying and dangerous.
"The people and businesses in a watershed have the right to use it
reasonably for drinking, growing food and other activities in the
community. Over the long term, as communities enter into contracts with
companies that extract water, it could become difficult for states and
local governments to regulate water removal, leading to a domino-effect
where water is taken freely with very little regulation," said Hauter.
To restore the public's faith in tap water and to ensure that future
generations of Americans have access to safe, clean, affordable water,
Food & Water Watch recommends that Congress pass a clean water
trust fund. Such an act would ensure that communities have the
financial resources necessary to keep their pipes upgraded, their water
safe and their natural resources in their community, while creating as
many as 47,500 jobs long-term, sustainable jobs. Food & Water Watch
also recommends that Congress require labels on all bottled water to
include the source of the water, how and whether it was treated, the
presence of regulated and unregulated contaminants and information
about the high environmental and economic cost of bottled water.