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Seth Gladstone –

Share of Popular Bottled Water from Municipal Supplies Up 50 Percent

Food & Water Watch Analysis Reveals Uptick in Sourcing from Taxpayer-Supported Water Supplies

WASHINGTON - New analysis of industry data released today by the national consumer
advocacy group Food & Water Watch finds that almost half of all
bottled water sold in U.S. retail outlets in PET plastic bottles now
comes from municipal tap water supplies. Bottling Our Cities’ Tap Water
shows that between 2000 and 2009 the share of retail-sold PET bottled
water that is actually tap water grew from 32.7 percent to 47.8 percent.

The data also reveals that the volume of tap water bottled in PET and
sold in retail outlets increased almost twice as fast as that of spring
water over the same period. In 2000, 449.3 million gallons of tap water
were bottled, increasing 453 percent to 2.5 billion gallons in 2009.
Over that same time, the volume of spring water bottled grew 194 percent
from 922.8 million gallons to 2.7 billion gallons.

“These are the numbers the bottled water industry doesn’t want you to
see,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.
“These figures reveal that more and more bottled water is basically the
same product the flows from consumer taps, subsidized by taxpayer
dollars—then poured into an environmentally destructive package, and
sold for thousands of times its actual value.”

The industry data attributes the increase in tap water in retail-sold
PET bottled water to Nestle Pure Life’s switch from spring water to tap
water in 2005. The company increased expenditures on advertising for
Nestle Pure Life by 3,000 percent between 2004 and 2009, and sales of
the brand were up by 18 percent in 2009.

While community resistance to spring water and ground water
extraction has increased in recent years, many municipalities have
brokered deals with bottled water companies to sell off water supplies
allocated for future growth or times of drought in exchange for the
promise of jobs or increased tax revenues. Separate analysis conducted
by Food & Water Watch found that the typical bottled water plant
employs only 24 people.

Bottling Our Cities’ Tap Water is available here.


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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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