Sinking bottled water in Edwards
July 19, 2010
Edwards – Even for 9-year-old Caroline Jones, buying bottled water is a hard habit to break, she says. But after seeing the movie “Tapped,” she’s telling everyone she knows to stop buying it and just to drink water from the sink.
“The movie talks about how companies, like Nestle, are taking water away from beautiful lakes, water that we could just get out of our faucets,” Caroline says. “It’s wasting water and wasting plastic just to bottle it.”
Directed by Stephanie Soechtig and from the producers of “Who Killed the Electric Car” and “I.O.U.S.A,” “Tapped” is a documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look into the world of bottled water, an $800 billion global industry that makes its money buying and selling back a natural resource that many consider a basic human right.
The film explores the many ecological problems associated with the bottled water business, from the plastic production at oil refineries, to the leaching of chemicals like BPA (an estrogen-mimicking chemical) into our bodies and environment, to how plastic bottles wind up in our oceans causing pollution. According to the film, it takes approximately 500 million gallons of oil to create the plastic bottles and to transport bottled water all around the world. The number is growing every year.
Following the path of bottled water, the movie paints a portrait of the lives and communities affected by the industry, including the politicians, lobbyists and activists who are caught at the intersection of big business and the public’s right to water.
On Wednesday, at 7 p.m., the Eagle River Watershed Council will show a free screening of “Tapped” at the Battle Mountain High School auditorium in hopes of educating the community on the ecological and social problems associated with the industry.
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“I was shocked to learn how bottled water negatively affects small communities,” said Elena Jones, Caroline’s mom, and the Watershed Council’s events and finance coordinator. “These companies produce bottled water seven days a week, around the clock, even during a drought. Water is depleted, and that really bothers me.”
As “Tapped” illustrates, 90 percent of the U.S. has safe, clean and some of the best drinking water in the world. Yet, people continue to buy bottled water, and at 1,900 times the cost of tap water. One of the ironies surrounding bottled water is that many of the popular brands on supermarket shelves – about 40 percent – are bottling that same, great municipal water and reselling it. Some companies run it through another filter, others do absolutely nothing to it.
“If you needed to buy bottled water, we would have told you a long time ago,” said Todd Fessenden, Eagle River Water and Sanitation Distritct’s (ERWSD) water division manager.
This is somewhat of an inside joke for public water suppliers because if our local drinking water ever became contaminated, like a bacteria outbreak, the state could mandate an order for the public to boil all its water from the tap. In a situation where boiling can’t take care of the problem, like certain chemical or unknown contamination, then the state would require a “bottled water order,” and ERWSD would advise all its customers to buy bottled water.
The truth is Eagle County residents are extremely blessed with not only safe drinking water, but “great drinking water due to great source water,” says Diane Johnson, community relations manager for ERWSD. “Most communities are downstream of many other users, but in the valley, it’s very minimal. Our water is primarily snow melt and folks in Eagle County get one of the first uses of that water.”
ERWSD maintains four public water systems in the valley and supplies public water to Vail, Avon, Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Cordillera, Eagle-Vail, and Edwards, plus, is the contract operator for the Holland Creek Metropolitan District (Red Sky Ranch) and Town of Red Cliff systems.
Living at the headwaters, it’s mind-boggling why people would buy cases and cases of bottled water at Costco, but they do. Part of it is marketing on behalf of huge corporations like Nestle, Coca-Cola and Pepsi; the other part is a general lack of knowledge that our public water is safe. The Watershed Council is hoping “Tapped” will shed some light on the situation.
“I hope people come out and see the movie and go away knowing how they can make small, positive changes in their life when it comes to water,” Jones said.
Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She and her husband, Captain Vacuum, own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.