Santa Clara Valley Water District Takes a Stand on Tap

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The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors passed a resolution Tuesday promoting the economic and environmental benefits of tap water over bottled water and prohibiting the purchase of bottled water with district funds.

We want to help educate the public that tap water is not only healthy and safe for them, but good for the environment

The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors passed a resolution Tuesday promoting the economic and environmental benefits of tap water over bottled water and prohibiting the purchase of bottled water with district funds.

In addition to prohibiting the purchase of bottled water, the district has also banned the sale of bottled water on district facilities. This means that district employees will no longer be able to purchase bottled water from their cafeteria. While this may seem like an extreme measure to some, for the district, it's the clear choice.

"We want to help educate the public that tap water is not only healthy and safe for them, but good for the environment," said the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, Rosemary Kamei.

"In addition, people can save money by drinking tap water, which costs a fraction of the price of bottled water. In Santa Clara County, people can buy 120 gallons of tap water for the price of a gallon of bottled water," Director Kamei added.

The consumption of bottled water is increasing globally, with the United States being the leading consumer. This growth is in large part due to the huge marketing campaigns promoting bottled water as safer and healthier than tap water. Contrary to the propaganda, tap water is, in fact, subjected to more rigorous testing and purity standards than bottled water. According to a four-year study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a third of the bottled water tested contained levels of contamination. A key NRDC finding is that bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety.

To ensure that the water supplied by the district is clean, safe and better tasting, the district has implemented an advanced technique for water purification known as the Ozone treatment. Ozone is the primary method of disinfection at the Santa Teresa and Penitencia water treatment plants. The district has plans to expand this treatment to the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant in the future.

In addition, there are serious environmental problems associated with bottled water. According to the Pacific Institute, more than 17 million barrels of oil was used to produce the 31.2 billion liters of bottled water that the Americans consumed in 2006. Bottling the water produced more than 25 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. And this does not include the energy consumed to transport the bottles. It takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.

Once used, most of the empty water bottles end up in trash. According to the Container Recycling Institute 86 percent plastic water bottles become trash. Incinerating the used bottles produces toxic byproducts, while those buried in the landfills can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

For those that think recycling is the answer, almost 40 percent of the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles that were deposited for recycling in the United States in 2004 were actually exported, sometimes to as far away as China, thus adding to the resources used by this product.

The impact of bottled water on our resources and environment cannot be denied or ignored. By prohibiting the purchase of bottled water the district is promoting the tap water, setting an environmental example, and reaffirming its commitment to providing a healthy, safe and reliable supply of water.

The district will also launch a public information campaign to promote the economic and environmental benefits of drinking tap water. In addition to reaching out to the public, the Board of Directors will be reaching out to all of the local municipalities in Santa Clara County asking for their support for tap water over bottled water.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages wholesale drinking water resources and provides stewardship for the county's five watersheds, including 10 reservoirs, more than 800 miles of streams and groundwater basins. The water district also provides flood protection throughout Santa Clara County.

Media Contact:
Susan Siravo            
Office: (408) 265-2607, ext. 2290

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