WORLD WATER DAY 2009 FOCUSES ON TRANSBOUNDARY WATER POLICY
March 17, 2009
ALEXANDRIA, VA— The theme of World Water Day 2009, celebrated on Sunday, March 22, is “Transboundary Waters,” as the United Nations (U.N.) recognizes the world’s 263 transboundary lake and river basins, which includes territory in 145 countries, covering nearly half of the Earth’s land surface. “Great reservoirs of freshwater also move silently below international borders in underground aquifers,” as noted by the United Nations. By the U.N.’s count, there are over 270 transboundary aquifers in the world.
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) supports World Water Day and we recognize the importance of sound water management policies both at home and in concert with other nations. In the United States, annual bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.02%) of the total ground water withdrawn each year. The bottled water industry uses minimal amounts of groundwater to produce an important consumer product—and does so with great efficiency. Even though it is a minimal groundwater user and is one of among thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users, bottled water companies actively support comprehensive ground water management practices that are science-based, multi-jurisdictional, treat all users equitably, and provide for future needs of this important resource. The same holds true for the bottled water industry’s support for strong and adequately funded municipal water infrastructure. Nearly all U.S. consumers and industries rely on tap water and every taxpayer and every industry must help ensure future supplies of water from municipal systems are safe and plentiful in the years ahead.
A good example of international cooperation by the bottled water industry on water management issues is the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, also known as Annex 2001, which was ratified by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President on October 3, 2008 after a decade of negotiation. The Compact was endorsed by the Great Lakes Governors and Canadian officials in 2005 as a means to protect the water resources of the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) providing the necessary international framework to preserve the Great Lakes watershed immediately surrounding the world’s largest fresh water lakes. IBWA worked in several Great Lakes states, through local counsels and in-state allies, as well as with the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI) to introduce and enact sound legislation to ratify and implement Annex 2001 to protect legitimate water-based businesses interests that operate in the Great Lakes region.
The Compact seeks to prevent large diversions of water outside the basin but allows for consumptive uses such as for food products made with water. It is designed to allow the states a means to review large scale water withdrawals of 5 million gallons or more a day in the basin and to review all proposed diversions of water from the basin. As law, it sets an important precedent that may influence other states or regional basins and adjoining countries as they consider the issue of water resource management in the future.
Consumers across the United States choose bottled water because it is a healthy, refreshing beverage. As a manufactured food product, bottled water is similar to thousands of other beverage and food products that are comprehensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food product. Bottled water has its own stringent manufacturing standards governing its safety, purity and labeling. And by law, FDA standards for bottled water must be as protective of public health as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tap water regulations.
Water is an essential ingredient in all bottled water and many other consumer products. Our industry fully recognizes the importance of protecting the quantity and quality of water in a variety of natural settings. It is in all of our best interests to protect, preserve and provide a safe and affordable water supply, whether the water comes from groundwater, springs or through a public utility. Over the last several years, our industry has worked to educate lawmakers about the bottled water industry, as well as its environmental leadership when it comes to water conservation and efficiency. Our industry works to utilize and manage water resources in a responsible manner by investing in the best science and technology to improve water quality, strengthen water conservation practices and to bottle and dispose of water products in a way that best serves the environment.
Global Water Availability
- While government and the private sector work to find permanent solutions to provide clean drinking water in underserved communities, bottled water combined with other solutions such as filtration and bulk filling stations, is an efficient and effective means of delivering clean, sanitary drinking water.
- A growing number of bottled water companies are designating a portion of their income to support global programs, which help create long term solutions for the provision of water for drinking, sanitation and hygiene in underserved and developing communities.
Bottled Water and the Environment
- Consumers should be aware that bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place. In fact, all bottled water containers --whether plastic, glass or aluminum—are recyclable. IBWA actively supports comprehensive curbside recycling programs, partners with other beverage and food companies, municipalities, and the recycling industry, as we seek to educate consumers about recycling, and work to increase all recycling to reduce litter.
- The bottled water industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint by using lighter-weight plastics for its containers and increasing the fuel efficiency in the transportation of their products to market. In seven years, the average weight of single-serve bottled water has decreased by over 27%.
- Bottled water containers make up a very small part of the waste stream, accounting for less than one-third of one percent all waste produced in the U.S. Any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must be comprehensive and focus on all consumer goods.
- The larger bottles found on many home and office bottled water coolers can be sanitized and re-used an average of 40 times before the bottled water company removes them from the marketplace and recycles them. That is why the bottled water industry is considered one of the “original recyclers.” Larger, single-use bottled water cooler containers are fully recyclable.
Bottled Water and Emergency Response
- IBWA and the bottled water industry have worked to develop solutions to better enable federal, state and local emergency response agencies to act with greater efficiency and speed with regard to bottled water distribution and coordination in emergency relief operations. IBWA’s broad-ranging expertise can help government officials better understand the issues involved as they attempt to create a more workable system.