Bottled water

I read with interest the article written by Richard Rolke that appeared in the March 2 edition of The Morning Star entitled, “Bottled water sector takes on city hall.”

In the well-written piece, Mr. Rolke quotes objections to bottled water by Vernon councillors Buffy Baumbrough and Mary-Jo O’Keefe that require clarification.

Coun. Baumbrough’s concerns about the carbon footprint of bottled water should be satisfied by independent research firm Quantis International, which confirmed that bottled water has the smallest carbon footprint of any bottled beverage. There probably aren’t many mass-produced food products as readily available to Vernon residents as the bottled water produced by Nestlé Waters Canada in Hope, B.C.

The average shipping distance for bottled water is 250 kilometres from source to shelf. That compares to 2,400 to 3,200 kilometers for fresh fruit and vegetables and most consumer packaged goods sold through grocers, according to Dan Murphy, an agricultural consultant from Washington state.

With respect to Coun. O’Keefe’s comments, taking into consideration that less than one per cent of the water produced by the City of Vernon for its residents is consumed for hydration purposes, it is highly unlikely that the consumption of bottled water has any impact on municipal system usage.

As was stated during my presentation to Vernon council, we have no objection to tap water being served instead of bottled water at council, committee or staff meetings at city hall.

We have no objections to the installation of water fountains, as long as they are maintained to public health unit standards.

Why? Bottled water doesn’t compete with tap water. It competes with other bottled beverages. According to independent market research firm Probe Research Inc., 70 per cent of Canadians drink both tap water and bottled water.

They drink tap water at home and bottled water away-from-home.

In closing, we believe local residents have the right to consume the bottled beverage of their choice in municipal facilities, unencumbered by well-meaning but misinformed environmental activists, some elected officials or competing business interests.

John B. Challinor

Director of Corporate Affairs

Nestlé Waters Canada