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 March 08, 2009
It May be Hard to Quit the Bottle

 Canada's national municipal organization Wants local governments to cut back on the use of bottled water in their own facilities where other options are available.

At a recent meeting in Victoria, B.C., the National Board of Directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) passed a resolution encouraging municipalities to "phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water at their own facilities where appropriate and where potable water is available."

The resolution does not call for a ban on the sale of bottled water to Consumers, but it is another example of how municipalities are encouraging environmentally sustainable water choices according to FCM president Jean Perrault, mayor of Sherbrooke, Que.

"Regulating bottled water for public consumption falls under provincial and federal jurisdiction," said Perrault. "All orders of government must work together to reduce reliance on a product that produces more waste, costs more and uses more energy than simple, dependable municipal tap water."

This cooperation among governments must extend to investments in local water systems, added Perrault. The most economical and reliable source of drinking water is a first-rate municipal water system. Where these systems are lacking, all orders of government must help fund the necessary infrastructure," he added.

The FCM resolution also calls on municipalities to develop awareness campaigns about the positive benefits and quality of municipal water supplies. Municipalities will determine their local course of action.

The resolution was put forward by the cities of Toronto and London, Ont., over growing concerns for environmental impacts related to the production of bottled water, the energy requirements for the production and transport of bottled water, as well as the disposal and/or recycling of water bottles.

Bottled water containers may be recyclable but they still have to be manufactured and transported, which uses significant energy. Between 40 and 80 per cent end up in local landfills and that's a burden on the environment and a cost for municipal taxpayers.

FCM is the national voice of municipal governments, established in 1901, representing the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. With more than 1,775 members representing 90 per cent of Canadians, FCM members include Canada's largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations.