The restaurants will reduce the use of bottled, non-carbonated water and promote the cities' high-quality tap water.
Promoting city waterUntil bottled water sales erupted, public officials never imagined they would have to promote plain, old tap water with their own PR campaigns, said Jeremy Hanson, spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak. This year, the city of Minneapolis has about $200,000 in its budget to promote city water. One selling point from the city's website: A resident can refill a bottle 2,850 times with Minneapolis water to equal the price of a single 79-cent bottle of store-bought water. The campaign to promote tap water aims to get residents and businesses to reduce waste. Even though many people recycle the plastic or glass bottles, the mission is to prevent the waste in the first place, whether it's recycled or not, said Susan Hubbard, CEO of Eureka Recycling in Minneapolis. But even eco-conscious businesspeople like Hubbard don't believe consumers should blindly assume all tap water is safe. People have a distrust and suspicion of water, regardless of its source, she said. Not all bottled water is bad, and sometimes public water is unsafe.
Pipes can contaminate waterMinneapolis water is a very good product, said Bill Scott, vice president of Premium Waters, which bottles Chippewa Springs water, based in Minneapolis. But sometimes deteriorating water pipes can carry contaminants. If residents are told to run the tap for 60 seconds before drinking, that's a concern, Scott said. Common Roots cafe owner Danny Schwartzman avoided serving bottled water in his restaurant even before signing the pledge. He serves filtered tap water, which many restaurants already use. Schwartzman also plans to install a carbonation machine so he can serve sparkling water without the bottles. His cafe, which specializes in local and organic foods, only serves tap beer in its attempt to virtually ban the bottle. (Organic bottled wine being one exception). What will customers think? Jennifer Nowlan of Minneapolis said she buys bottled water for convenience on the go, but she's willing to give it up in the restaurant. "It's cheaper, and I like the taste of Minneapolis water," she said.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633