Bottled Water vs Tap Water

An office wide email was sent out by our Executive Assistant from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office issuing an executive directive (Permanent Phase-Out of Bottled Water Purchases by San Francisco City and County Government) barring use of City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) general funds from being used to purchase bottled water citing environmental and economical reasons.

The executive directive is slated to take effect beginning July 1, 2007.

The Mayor and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission claim that in many instances, bottled water is inferior to the City’s tap water and much of what we pay for in bottled water is marketing markup.

The key points of the documents are:

  • “…bottled water often costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water.”
  • “In San Francisco, for the price of one gallon of bottled water, local residents can purchase 1000 gallons of tap water.”
  • The effects on the environment is that supplying plastic water bottles for one year needs 47 million gallons of oil (equivalent to one billion pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere)
  • “All of this waste and pollution is generated by a product that by objective standards is often inferior to the quality of San Francisco‚Äôs pristine tap water.”

The Mayor’s directive phase out plan calls for:

  • July 1, 2007 – City department or agency can no longer use city funds to purchase single serving bottles of water and no exceptions will be granted for city sponsored or funded events either.
  • September 30, 2007 – An audit is to be completed by this date on the “viability of switching from bottled water dispensers to bottle-less water dispensers that utilize Hetch Hetchy supplied water.”
  • December 1, 2007 – All city agencies or departments are to have bottle-less water dispensers that utilize Hetch Hetchy supplied water.

I admit that I do prefer bottled water (Dasani and Fiji) because I swear I can taste a difference, but if the environmental impact figures are relatively accurate, I may have to reconsider. I do not buy bottled water everyday, I have a refillable half gallon water bottle I use, but I fill it up using the office’s bottled water dispenser which is supplied by Alhambra.

To read the entire text of Executive Directive 07-07, see here [PDF].

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