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Bottled water display at a Target store.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune file

Rybak, U.S. mayors: Reach for tap, not the bottle

  • Star Tribune
  • June 20, 2008 - 11:12 PM

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other mayors from around the country are urging all U.S. cities to stop spending tax money on bottled water, and instead drink from the tap.

Their resolution will be presented today to the Environment Committee at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami.

The resolution, submitted by Rybak and the mayors of 14 other cities, cites a host of reasons why cities should use their own municipal water, rather than bottled water. Supporters of the measure argue that municipal tap water "has more stringent requirements for testing" than bottled water, that bottled water costs 1,000 to 10,000 times more than tap water and that plastic water bottles are one of the fastest growing sources of municipal waste.

Rybak's office stopped serving bottled water last year, and Minneapolis has about $200,000 in its budget this year to promote city water.

Distributors of bottled water, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, oppose the campaign. Last year, Coca-Cola and the association passed out fliers at the Conference of Mayors that argued against a resolution to study the impact of bottled water on municipal waste.

Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the association, calls the campaign "myopic and shortsighted. ... We're not trying to compete with tap water here. We are trying to supplement the water available to consumers."

In April, 14 Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants pledged to reduce the use of bottled, non-carbonated water and promote city tap water in an effort to cut down on plastic and glass waste. Similar campaigns are underway in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis and Chicago.

PAUL WALSH

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