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Australia town bans bottled water

A rural town in Australia has voted overwhelmingly to ban the sale of bottled water over concerns about its environmental impact.

Campaigners say Bundanoon, in New South Wales, may be the first community in the world to have such a ban. They say huge amounts of resources are used to extract, package and transport bottled water. The discarded plastic bottles then end up as litter or go into landfill sites, the “Bundy on Tap” campaign says. More than 350 residents turned out to vote at the public meeting in the town hall.

Only one resident voted against the ban, along with a representative from the bottled water industry, ABC news reported.

The BBC’s Nick Bryant in Sydney says locals have promised not to set upon visitors if they ignore the ban, but they will be encouraged to fill a reusable container from water fountains in the main street.

The reusable bottles will bear the slogan “Bundy on Tap”. Campaigner John Dee said local opinion had been incensed when a drinks company announced plans to tap an underground reservoir in the town.

Environmental impact

“The company has been looking to extract water locally, bottle it in Sydney and bring it back here to sell it,” he said. “It made people look at the environmental impact of bottled water and the community has been quite vocal about it.” The ban has been supported by shopkeepers in the town, which has a population of about 2,500. “We believe Bundanoon is the world’s first town that has got its retailers to ban bottled water,” said Mr Dee. “We haven’t found it anywhere else.”

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has backed the cause, ordering government departments to stop buying bottled water and use tap water instead. Mr Rees says it will save taxpayers money and help the environment.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8141569.stm

Bottled Water Under Scrutiny

I almost never buy bottled water to drink. Instead I prefer to drink filtered water from the tap. But on a recent trip to New York City I have to confess that I coughed up a ridiculous $3 a bottle for “Fiji Natural Artesian Water.” I don’t know if it was the indulgence of being on vacation, or the less-deliciously presented bathroom sink of my hotel room, but I fell into the trap of paying for water three nights in a row. Fiji Water, according to their website, is “Far from pollution. Far from acid rain. Far from industrial waste.  There’s no question about it: Fiji is far away. But when it comes to drinking water, ‘remote’ happens to be very, very good.”

Is it? Who knows.

The Fiji website has a lot of good stories about their water production, but I can’t find anything even approaching an unspun scientific accounting of chemical contaminants.


Read on…

Source: http://www.theexaminingroom.com/2009/07/bottled-water-under-scrutiny/

Quality of Bottled Water Questioned in Congress


Published: July 8, 2009
WASHINGTON — In 2008, Americans drank 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water, double the amount of a decade ago, with more than half saying they drink it because it is safer and healthier than tap water.

But at a hearing Wednesday, members of Congress were briefed on two new studies that question whether bottled water is safer than water directly from the faucet. Afterward, the committee sent letters to 13 companies requesting more information about the source of their water and how it is tested.

“Neither the public nor federal regulators know nearly enough about where bottled water comes from and what safeguards are in place to ensure its safety,” said Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the oversight committee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement about the data the committee was seeking. “The majority of consumers purchase bottled water because of perceived health and safety benefits, but they actually know very little about the quality of the water they are buying.”

While the Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water, the Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water, which is considered a food.

Municipal water systems have been required to distribute an annual report to consumers since 1999, disclosing the name of their water source and any contaminants found in testing, as well as the potential health effects of those contaminants.

Two new reports — one from the Government Accountability Office and a second from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization — question whether the regulation of bottled water is sufficient. The environmental group recommends that bottling companies provide detailed information about the source and treatment of their water, just as providers of tap water do.

“In so many cases we just don’t have the information on what the source actually is,” said Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group. “Almost one-third of bottled waters have no information on their label.”

Just 2 of 188 bottle companies surveyed by the environmental group provided information about the water’s source and manner of treatment, as well as quality test reports online: Ozarka Drinking Water and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.

In addition, suppliers of tap water are required to notify customers within 24 hours about contaminants that exceed federal levels; this does not apply to bottled water. Nor must bottled water companies test water with certified laboratories, a requirement for tap water suppliers.

Some of the lawmakers questioned the need for more regulation of bottled water. “With all of the life-threatening health priorities facing the F.D.A., this issue does to me seem a little secondary,” said Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon.

“I want to know it’s safe when I drink it,” Mr. Walden said. “I’m not sure I care what spring it came out of.”

F.D.A. officials say that by fall, the agency would be able to carry out provisions of 2007 legislation that requires bottlers to report the results of tests showing that their products pose health consequences.

In a statement prepared for the hearing, Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner for the F.D.A., said the agency believed that the Food Safety Enhancement Act in development by the committee would take “some positive steps in providing additional authority that will help to fill some of the gaps identified by the G.A.O.”

Siobhan DeLancey, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said in an interview: “We can do it. However, we have a very large regulatory portfolio. It’s been well acknowledged in recent years that we struggle with the whole staff and funding aspect of it.”

In the meantime, the agency says consumers should not be concerned that their bottled water is unsafe.

“We do monitor and inspect the bottled water, the same as we do food,” Ms. DeLancey said. “I don’t think that they should think it’s totally unregulated.”

Joseph Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, also dismissed the fuss about the safety of bottled water at the hearing.

“They both have to be safe,” Mr. Doss said of bottled water and tap water. “There are just different ways that you get to that goal.”




Safe food, clean water and clean air are basic needs that are fundamental to our health. However, in Hong Kong these fundamental necessities have been taken for granted for too long, while the threats to them have multiplied. Do we know how safe they are?

In most cases the quality of the water supplied by the Hong Kong government’s Water Supply Department is safe to drink even if it tastes terrible. But once the water reaches residential buildings the water is pumped to the roof and stored in water tanks maintained by the building management committee. Staffed by the building owners, many of whom are absentee landlords, the committees are often reluctant to spend any money on maintenance – preferring to react to circumstances or to be compelled by government notice.

This leads to poor water supply pipes, rusty water, low pressure and in some cases appalling and unsafe water quality.

No matter how new your building is it is important that regular checks are made of the tanks and supply pipes to every home. But the only way to secure your personal water supply is to control it yourself.

Many people do this by buying bottled water from the supermarket, or boiling tap water and cooling it in the fridge. But how safe is this really, and how environmentally friendly?


Hong Kong water comes from two sources – rainfall from natural mountain catchments, and by pipeline supply from Guangdong Province. Over the first hundred years of water supply in Hong Kong several inland dams were create as well as cisterns located at the top of hills. But with the increasing size of Hong Kong’s population and a shortage of natural storage reservoir sites led to the construction of Hong Kong’s first ‘reservoir in the sea’ at Plover Cove – the Plover Cove Reservoir.

And not before time. In 1963 and 1967, serious droughts affected Hong Kong. Our water supply was unable to support the needs of the rapid population growth of the 1950’s and early 60’s. In 1963 and 1967, there were periods when water supply was restricted to four hours per four days and people had to save water for four days’ use.

The initial scheme, completed in 1967, was created by damming, and draining an inlet of Tolo Harbour and had a storage of 170 million cubic metres. The storage was increased in 1973 to 230 million cubic metres by raising the dam. A similar but larger scheme at High Island, completed in 1978, has a capacity of 281 million cubic metres. The total storage capacity of Hong Kong’s reservoirs is 586 million cubic metres.

Dongjiang is Hong Kong’s major source of water, and will meet all future increase in demand. It has so far supplied Hong Kong with more than 11 billion cubic meters of water, accounting for 80 percent of the fresh water supplied to Hong Kong.

In 1960, the agreement was reached with the Guangdong authorities whereby Hong Kong would purchase 23 million cubic metres of water each year. The supply from Guangdong stipulated under the latest agreement was increased to 810 million cubic metres a year in 2003.

This continued to increase by 10 million cubic metres per annum up to 2004, beyond which the annual supply quantity has been subject to further review. The designed maximum capacity of the supply system is 1.1 billion cubic metres per annum. The supply contract, costing HK$2 billion a year, has helped the city’s economy grow without the interruption of water shortage, although the payment constitutes only 0.15 per cent of Hong Kong’s HK$1.3 trillion gross domestic product.


Future conflict over water

Food and water are two basic human needs, but by 2025, water shortages will be prevalent among poorer countries where resources are limited and population growth is rapid, such as the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. By 2025, large urban and peri-urban areas will require new infrastructure to provide safe water and adequate sanitation. This suggests growing conflicts with agricultural water users, who currently consume the majority of the water used by humans.

Generally speaking the more developed countries of North America, Europe and Russia will not see a serious threat to water supply by the year 2025, not only because of their relative wealth, but more importantly their populations will be better aligned with available water resources.

North Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and northern China will face very severe water shortages due to physical scarcity and a condition of overpopulation relative to their carrying capacity with respect to water supply. Most of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern China and India will face water supply shortages by 2025; for these latter regions the causes of scarcity will be economic constraints to developing safe drinking water, as well as excessive population growth.

Some interesting points are made in this article Water Wars and more general notes regarding water in the Middle East is here Water.

Water! Your health. Our planet.