Jamee DeSimone, M.Sc.

What would we do without vital, nourishing, tasty water?! Why, we just wouldn't survive! I think most of us have a firm grasp of the importance and necessity of this most wonderful natural resource. When pointedly asked, I think most of us would even admit that water was more important than money...And yet we continue to pollute our precious lakes, rivers, oceans and groundwater sources - for the most part because of that little piece of paper we hold so near and dear to our hearts: the dollar (peso/euro/yen/pound/etc...).
The thing that gets me most riled up is the debate over bottled water and the fears around tap water. Bottled water is not just unhealthy, it is environmentally irresponsible, and a morally and ethically devoid corporate scam (which one could argue all corporate scams are - see the doc "The Corporation"), which so many of us fall victim to.
I won't go into it in too much detail...but there are several certainties:
1. Bottled water plants do not get checked for bacterial/parasites at nearly the same frequency as tap water. Most governments would like to avoid another "Walkerton" scandal and check tap water every day. Tests on a variety of companies offering bottled water have shown high concentrations of bacteria that would never be allowed in tap water. But they're making money, so it's ok.
2. The number of plastic bottles ending up in our sewer systems, rivers, lakes and oceans is astounding. But more so is the number of bottles that end up in our garbage dumps. Many people believe these bottles are recycled and returned onto their grocery store shelves with fresh, natural "spring" water all ready to be repurchased. This is false.
3. Most troubling to me is the unawareness of the ethical dilemma bottled water creates. Corporations are essentially privatizing water, which is a resource we are all privy to, and then selling it back to you thousands of times more expensive than you pay for it from your own tap. For instance, Nestle set up a bottled water plant in a small town in Michigan (Mecosta), choosing their aquifer as one fit for their bottled water product. Because water laws are so poorly defined, they were able to pump upwards of 400 gallons per minute of water from this aquifer, which the town used (wells) to supply their domestic water. A summer drought occurred, and Nestle continued pumping, running town people's wells dry, decreasing the stream and lake water levels significantly, and forced people to purchase their water from grocery stores. Nestle was taken to court over the matter and was ordered to stop pumping. However with an appeal led by a team of lawyers and lobbyists, they continued pumping and were awarded a pumping rate of 200 gallons per minute. The law wars continued with this little county against a massive multi-national corporation. As of July 2009, they were not able to make Nestle stop pumping, but were able to assure that the volume of water removed from beneath their feet was "minimal" (ie. 200 gallons per minute).
This is only one story close to home, but the horrors attributed to large corporations like Nestle and Coke are tremendous.
So enjoy your tap water! Take it with you in a steel water bottle and drink it all day long! :)

Leave a Reply.