The first two resolutions that require a municipality to become a Blue Community are obvious – recognizing water as a human right and promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services go without saying.
But the third resolution, banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events, wades into the arena of unfair competition, and it also contradicts current municipal policy.
It’s no wonder council had such difficulty with it.
On the former point, is it realistic, or even legal, to ban a product that is perfectly healthy for the people who choose consume it? Is it government’s place to eliminate a choice for its residents?
One aspect of council’s decision focused on reducing greenhouse gases. Producing and shipping bottled water does generate greenhouse gases, but under that auspice, should we not ban all vending machine drinks, or any other product that comes wrapped in plastic and is shipped?
For people who prefer not to drink out of public fountains, and many don’t, bottled water provides an alternative to fountain water and sugary drinks like pop and juice. Which brings us to the city’s Healthy Choices policy, established in 2008. That policy aimed to provide more healthy choices for people purchasing products at city facilities and concessions in an effort to promote activity and good health.
By banning the sale of bottled water, people using city facilities now must choose between drinking fountains and sugary drinks, or they have to bring their own water, likely bottled water from another vendor.
There is no real reason to ban bottled water. Municipalities have every opportunity to promote their own water services without washing away people’s choice.