King County mulls foregoing bottled water

In an effort to reduce environmental impacts and save money, the Metropolitan King County Council is now considering an end to the purchase of single-serve bottled water. “King County’s cities and water districts provide some of the best drinking water in the nation, so why are we buying bottled water?” asked Councilmember Dow Constantine, prime sponsor of the ordinance.

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2008 12:23pm
  • News

In an effort to reduce environmental impacts and save money, the Metropolitan King County Council is now considering an end to the purchase of single-serve bottled water.

“King County’s cities and water districts provide some of the best drinking water in the nation, so why are we buying bottled water?” asked Councilmember Dow Constantine, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “With an average price of one dollar per pint, bottled water costs about $8 per gallon – twice as much as gasoline.”

The Council’s General Government and Labor Relations Committee on May 29 recommended for passage a proposed ordinance to prohibit King County agencies from purchasing single-serving bottled water.

Constantine noted that producing a single one-liter plastic water bottle itself consumes three liters of water, and producing the 31 million bottles of water Americans purchase annually requires 17 million gallons of oil. He said tap water is cheap: at current Seattle water rates, a gallon of water costs one-third of one cent.

The proposed ordinance would restrict the purchase of single-serve bottled water by County agencies, departments and offices.

The legislation also directs the County Executive to adopt policies and procedures for implementing the bottled water restriction in the King County environmental purchasing policy. The legislation would permit the use of single-serve bottled water in cases where there are no reasonable alternatives to access to safe drinking water, when there are hydration requirements for employees working outside of county facilities, or to comply with state or federal workplace rules or other contractual reasons.

The legislation does not restrict the purchase of large bottled water for use in water coolers.

While the cities of Seattle and San Francisco recently adopted similar policies, they were enacted by executive order and affect only their cities’ executive branches. King County’s legislation would extend to all County agencies.

The proposed ordinance is set for final action by the County Council on June 9.




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