Bottled water finds itself increasingly unwelcome in the budgets of some U.S. cities.
According to preliminary results of a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 72 cities have considered eliminating or reducing bottled water purchases within city facilities and 44 either have formal bans in place or are actively encouraging city officials and departments to use tap water. Dozens cited promoting public water as the reason.
The mayors' group passed a resolution in 2008 urging cities to phase out government use of bottled water when feasible, and promote the importance of municipal water. As activists have argued that spending tax dollars on bottled water is wasteful and sends the wrong message about tap water, government agencies in Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Virginia have been ordered to limit their purchases of bottled water. (The Conference of Mayors said no Georgia cities indicated that they cut bottled water purchases.)
"These actions are not just about fiscal responsibility, they are about civic pride and protecting common resources," said Leslie Samuelrich, chief of staff at Corporate Accountability International, a shareholder activism group.
The bottled water category has been hurt by a recession and concern about the environmental impact of plastic bottles. Government budget deficits are an additional worry for water sellers such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Bottled water volume at Coca-Cola, seller of Dasani, fell nearly 16 percent last year, according to trade journal Beverage Digest. PepsiCo, which sells Aquafina, saw its water sales slide 13.4 percent. Sales of single-serve bottled water, including cheaper private label varieties, rose 1.3 percent last year in supermarkets. But sales of bulk water -- such as the large jugs that fill the office water cooler -- fell 6.5 percent, according to Beverage Digest.
Consumption of bottled water dropped by 2.5 percent last year, according to the International Bottled Water Association. But the declines of other types of beverages such as soft drinks allowed bottled water's market share to hold steady. The trade group counted that as a win.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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