June 30, 2008

Bottled Water Taps Fears, Some Say

The bottled water industry has convenience, fashion and fear in its side, industry observers and U.S. mayors have said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in Miami last week urging that bottled water be limited to emergency situations, The Washington Post reported.

Drinking bottled water started as a fashion statement, drunk because it was chic, said environmental author Elizabeth Royte. But then it went from fashion to fear.

U.S. mayors passed the resolution in part because the subtext of the bottled-water industry is the suggestion that tap water is unsafe or unhealthy, Mayor Martin Chavez of Albuquerque told the Post.

America's mayors have no problem with the industry marketing the convenience, Chavez said.

But, Chavez had concerns about the pricing of a product that is already cheap in developed countries.

It has a 1,000- to 10,000-percent markup over tap water. Most taxpayers would be outraged if we paid $1,000 for a pen when it is available for a dollar, he told the Post.

The International Bottled Water Association responded with a statement, saying the non-binding resolution could turn consumers away from a safe, healthy, conveniently available food product, the Post reported.