The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Water Emergency an Opportunity to Advance Long-Term Solutions, Overcome Short-Term Fixes like Bottled Water

Statement by Leslie Samuelrich, Chief of Staff, Corporate Accountability International


This weekend's water main break outside Boston is an unfortunate
reminder of the day-to-day reality for so many across the globe, and
what we stand to lose in the U.S. if we do not immediately reinvest in
our public water systems. Nearly two million people in the greater
Boston-area have joined the hundreds of millions worldwide that are
forced to boil tap water to protect against waterborne illness.
Fortunately, the boil-order in Boston is only temporary and the break
promises to be repaired within the week.

However as a nation, if we don't take swift action in guaranteeing
high quality tap water for generations to come, our experience may look
increasingly like those in countries that currently look to us as a
model. After all, we boast near universal access to high quality tap
water here in the states. But public water systems in the U.S. currently
face a $22 billion annual funding gap. And though investments in public
water stimulate the economy at large, overall funding has declined as
bottled water marketing has eroded public confidence in the tap and the
resulting political will to adequately fund public water.

For this reason, it's important bottled water be seen for what it is -
a band-aid solution to a much larger problem that it's marketing has,
in fact, helped to create. The deterioration of public water systems is
good for business, as Nestle CEO Kim Jeffery has more than once pointed
out. It should be no surprise that bottled water corporations seize on
crises such as the one in Boston to promote its product. Never mind that
up to 40 percent of bottled water comes from the same source and is far
less regulated than the tap.

We simply cannot afford to remain in this vicious cycle where we put
off necessary investments with short-term solutions that serve only to
set us back. Today states, including Massachusetts, spend millions of
taxpayer dollars on bottled water that so clearly could be better spent
bolstering our public water systems. To Massachusetts' credit, $185
million is already being channeled into water projects. Still that
figure may not be enough to address the ongoing need. That's why we need
to think outside the box and Think Outside the Bottle.

Corporate Accountability International encourages Governor Patrick to
cut state spending on bottled water and to reallocate those dollars to
public water systems. The organization also encourages people everywhere
to join the Think Outside the Bottle campaign which is actively working
to promote, protect and ensure public funding for public water systems
across the country. Learn more about getting involved at:

Corporate Accountability stops transnational corporations from devastating democracy, trampling human rights, and destroying our planet.

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