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March 23, 2010
2:34 PM

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch

Christina Rossi, 671-447-2540

Millions in Taxpayer Dollars Flow to Bottled Water

New report, film call for reducing waste, funding public water this World Water Day

BOSTON, MA - March 23 - Of five states surveyed, taxpayers are footing the bill for between $78,000 and $475,000 a year in bottled water, according to a report released today by Corporate Accountability International. The findings come on the heels of World Water Day and the release of the animated short, Story of Bottled Water. The states surveyed were Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon. The Connecticut governor’s office also announced today that it is considering various approaches that could help agencies cut back on bottled water spending.

Connecticut was among the four northeastern states featured in the first edition of the report, Getting States Off the Bottle. The second edition analyzes the problem with such spending, especially given tightening state budgets and the $22 billion annual shortfall currently facing public water systems nationwide.

A major cause of the gap in funding has been the marketing and promotion of bottled water. Marketing campaigns, like Nestlé’s Born Better, have convinced one in five people to believe the only place to get clean drinking water is from a bottle. And as public confidence in tap water has eroded, so too has the political will to invest in public water.

“The bottled water industry has manufactured demand for an essential resource that already flows from our taps,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director for Corporate Accountability International. “The marketing has been so effective that even the cities and states charged with the stewardship of our tap water are spending millions on bottled water, sending the wrong message about the quality of the tap.” 

After all, up to forty percent of bottled water sold comes from the same source as tap water. Tap water is also more highly regulated than what comes in the bottle.

Public education campaigns like Think Outside the Bottle are, however, restoring confidence in public water systems. A recent Harris Poll found that 29 percent of people switched from bottled to tap water in the last year. However, state action is not keeping pace with public opinion. While each state profiled in the report has made a commitment to reduce waste or reinvest in public water, there is still more to be done. By cutting state spending on bottled water these states will take an important, additional step forward.  

“During these tough economic times our states should be spending scarce public dollars on projects that provide vital public services and grow the economy at large, not just the bottom line for a handful of private corporations,” said Louaillier. “Investment in public water is, in this respect, one of the wisest investments we can make.”

According to a U.S. Conference of Mayors report, every dollar invested in public water generates more than six for the economy at large in the long term.

For both editions of the report visit
To view the Story of Bottled Water visit
For more information on World Water Day visit

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.


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