At Climate Conference, Mayors Take On Big Water

At Climate Conference, Mayors Take On Big Water

San Francisco's mayor announced a ban on bottle water and the nation's mayors passed a resolution looking into potential negative impacts on municipalities at the 75th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Resolution No. 90, passed at the meeting yesterday, aims to highlight the importance of municipal water and calls for a study of the impact of bottled water on city waste. The resolution was introduced last week by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Salt Lake City Mayor Ross "Rocky" Anderson, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Saying bottled water costs too much, worsens pollution and is no better than tap water, Newsom yesterday also announced that he would be signing an executive order banning city officials and contractors from purchasing bottled water with city funds when tap water was also available.

"In San Francisco, for the price of one gallon of bottled water, local residents can purchase 1,000 gallons of tap water," according to the mayor's order. Newsom said the city could save as much as $500,000 per year by serving tap water instead of bottled water, as well as reducing a significant amount of waste that ends up in landfills and recycling facilities. "All of this waste and pollution is generated by a product that by objective standards is often inferior to the quality of San Francisco's pristine tap water," the order continued.

The move follows a similar announcement last week, when the Ann Arbor City Council in Michigan announced that it would no longer have bottled water available at city events.

"Momentum is building in support of our public water systems," said Gigi Kellett with Corporate Accountability International, which supported the Mayors' Conference resolution. "We congratulate all of these mayors -- and the U.S. Conference of Mayors -- on their leadership in passing a resolution that places the political will of mayors behind full support of municipal water. It is a critical step toward keeping our public water supply strong. The ripples of leadership will be felt in cities and towns across the country. Our mayors are standing up for the environment and standing behind public water systems."

In response to the resolution, the International Bottled Water Association said that plastic bottles are among the most-recycled packaging in the country, and that all bottled water containers are recyclable. "Rather than focusing on one beverage product, it would make more sense for government officials to focus on improving recycling rates for all consumer packaging."