Notes on waste, water, whatever
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Category — Florida

Money and water (in bottles)

WHEC TV in Rochester, New York, reports that at a fundraising dance at Canandaigua Academy, sponsored by a school club called the Future Business Leaders of America, water fountains were turned off and thirsty dancers steered toward $1 bottled water. Angriness ensued. After, a school administrator acknowledged mistakes were made, apologized, and promised it wouldn’t happen again. Still, it makes me wonder. It wasn’t that long ago that a sports stadium at a Florida university was constructed without any drinking-water fountains at all.  (After much anger and some heat stroke, the fountains went in.)  I’ve never been denied a free cup of water at places that sell the bottled variety, but that day may come.

The Florida Times Union reports that state lawmakers, attempting to balance their budget, are considering a tax on bottled water. Water was exempted by the legislature in 1949, when no one was drinking single-serve bottles of the stuff. Today “the break is estimated to cost the state $42.3 million a year.” I wonder if the state is rethinking the $230 it charged Nestle Waters for a permit to pump hundreds of millions of gallons a year, without further charge, from Madison Blue Springs State Park (to be bottled as Deer Park). According to a March 2008 story in the St. Petersburg Times, “As an added incentive for Nestle, the state approved a tax refund of up to $1.68-million for the Madison bottling operation. To date, Nestle has received two refunds totaling $196,000 and requested a third tax refund.”

Meanwhile, in New York State, Gov. Paterson has proposed a so-called “obesity” tax on non-diet soft drinks, and Corporate Accountability International, through its Think Outside the Bottle Campaign, has called on Paterson to quit spending taxpayer dollars to provide bottled water in state buildings and at state functions. I was at a TOtB press conference today in New York City’s Union Square. It was overcast and so windy that concrete blocks were blown off a nearby ten-story construction site, and a street had to be closed off. Small crowd at Union, but the Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping, raised a few amens. As soon as Matt Rosenberg, of Retrovore.com, sends me a clip he shot of the event I’ll post it.

Yesterday,Think Outside the Bottle targeted Connecticut leaders in the town of Rocky Hill, asking them to quit the bottle and support investment in municipal water systems. As reported at WSFB.com, ditching bottled water could save the state $500,000 a year, according to state officials.  In yesterday’s Stamford Advocate, State Rep. Beth Bye says the state spends $11,600 a year to supply bottled water, Poland Spring brand, to offices in the Capitol. (I’m just guessing, but maybe the $500,000 covers water bought in local government offices throughout the state.) “We have good water,” Bye said. “You don’t have to bring water from Maine.” No word on whether anyone from Nestle Waters, which owns Poland Spring, showed up. The corporation’s headquarters are just thirteen miles away, in Greenwich.

February 12, 2009   No Comments