House Considers Bottled Water Impact

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on Domestic Policy recently held a hearing to examine the environmental impact of water bottling and extraction on communities across the country.

Leaders of groups that are battling local bottling plants argued that large-scale water diversion by these facilities could dry up the water sources their communities depend on. "These companies fail to assign adequate value or pay the full cost of the economic, social, and environmental damage they cause," stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, who testified on behalf of the organization at the hearing. "They're pouring millions of dollars of misleading advertising into a poorly regulated, inadequately labeled, wasteful and overpriced product."

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) President and CEO Joe Doss countered that the industry accounts for only 0.02 percent of all groundwater withdrawals in the United States. "IBWA member bottlers recognize the critical importance of environmental conservation and stewardship of all water resources and employ conservation and stewardship practices to their use and management of groundwater resources," Doss stated. "This is achieved through the use of monitoring wells and environmental assessments of their sources to help ensure both quantity and quality of the source, are often a part of local/regional water stewardship partnerships on aquifer protection."

The subcommittee hearing was called by Rep. Dennis Kucinich in an effort to help determine if the federal government needs to be more involved in regulating the industry's groundwater withdraws.

"Groundwater has largely been regarded as a resource that can be extracted by anyone who owns the land above an aquifer or spring," Kucinich said. "The common law was formulated before modern science understood the connections between groundwater and surface water and before the advent of large-scale mechanized pumping. As a result, it provides little protection for conservation."

For more information on the hearing, visit domesticpolicy.oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1655.

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