OK, let’s start with this story from KYW:
Groups Tell Mayor: Tap Water Is Good Enough
by KYW’s Karin Phillips
A coalition of advocates, students, and faith organizations is sending a letter to Mayor Street asking him to terminate city contracts with bottled water companies.
The letter to Mayor Street is part of the “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign by Corporate Accountability International, which is leading a charge against what it calls the marketing muscle of bottled water corporations.
Michael Gagne is Philadelphia coordinator:
“It calls on him to lead a public education campaign on the quality of our public water and the importance of safe, clean water.”
According to Gagne, mayors in other cities are terminating bottled water contracts and Philadelphia should follow suit:
“We think it’s a huge mistake for a city that has, by and large, a really good water system like Philadelphia, to be spending taxpayer money on bottled water and to have city workers drinking this on the job.”
A spokesman says the mayor’s office has no comment until they have seen the letter.
So, that was modestly interesting, right? And what was the take-away? The do-gooders are hassling the mayor for buying bottled water for city workers instead letting them drink good ol’ Philly tap. Some people have too much free time, right? But hang on, there’s actually A LOT MORE TO THIS STORY. First of all, Philly tap may be old, but it ain’t quite good. Nowhere in the KYW story is it mentioned that a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-partisan environmental watchdog, rated Philadelphia’s water quality as “fair” and our protection of our water sources, i.e. reservoirs, as “poor” — with worrisome levels of lead, chlorine by-products, cryptosporidium and “water-borne disease.” You can download the full PDF here.
Also, in the KYW story, the only motivation given for this campaign is the vague and essentially meaningless explanation that these do-gooders are “leading a charge against what it calls the marketing muscle of bottled water corporations.” What does that mean? Without a follow-up sentence, pretty much nothing. Which is sad because just look at all this interesting and useful info on the Corporate Accountability International web site the reporter or her editor chose NOT to share with readers:
One of the most visible examples of corporate control of water is bottled water. It is the fastest growing sector of the US beverage market and is a $55 billion a year business globally. Just three corporations, Nestle, Coke and Pepsi, make up almost half of the US bottled water market and in the last ten years, the consumption of bottled water has doubled. Right now, in the US, over half of the population drinks bottled water. Read more about the bottled water industry…
Q: But bottled water is cleaner, healthier and safer than tap water, right?
A: Well, not exactly. In fact, most people don’t know that ? of bottled water is actually tap water anyways–like Coke’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina–which these corporations resell for huge profits.
The Corporate Cover Up
Big corporations are misleading consumers by telling us that bottled water safer and healthier than tap water. The fact is that bottled water is less regulated than tap water — and in some cases is less safe, containing elevated levels of arsenic, bacteria and other contaminants. So, as these corporations profit off our water, they are undermining support for our public water supplies, which could pave the way for corporate privatization of our public water systems.
Lastly, The KYW story totally misses the subtext of the Think Outside The Bottle Campaign, which is quite similar to that episode of the The Simpsons where Mr. Burns had to eat the mutant three-eyed fish that Bart caught near his power plant. Simply put, the fastest way to make the Philadelphia water supply safe and healthy is to make the powers that be drink it every day. We only bother to mention all of this because we love you.