December 24, 2014

Town to study requests on bottled water

As published in The Erin Advocate

Transition Erin has asked Town council to ban single-use bottled water at the municipal office, to install water bottle refilling stations at the arenas and to discontinue the sale of bottled water.

Councillors were not ready to make any immediate decisions, but they did welcome three Water Rockers from Erin Public School, who presented the politicians with re-usable water bottles.

The told council they are hoping to expand their Blue W campaign to 50 more businesses outside the Erin village core. The program to allow people to fill their own bottles with tap water is already endorsed by downtown stores.

Jay Mowat and Liz Armstrong said that 48 municipalities and five school boards have formal bans on the sale of bottled water, and reminded Mayor Al Alls that during the election campaign he supported a ban on bottled water in municipal facilities.

They suggested that the sulfury taste of well water at the Town office could be eliminated with a filter system. Council made no commitment to study a ban at the office.

Councillor John Brennan liked the idea of filling stations, essentially a high tap with room for a bottle, successfully being used at Erin Public and Erin District High Schools.

“It seems to be a no brainer to give people a choice,” he said.

Councillor Jeff Duncan said he would not support a ban that would restrict people’s freedom of choice, preferring education and persuasion. Council agreed with his suggestion to consider the cost of filling stations as part of the 2015 budget process.

Staff will also report to council on the issue of discontinuing the sale of bottled water at arenas. If that happens, people would still be allowed to bring their own bottled water to the sites.

Transition Erin and other community groups are concerned about the possible impact of Nestlé Waters Canada pumping up to 1.1 million litres of water per day at its Hillsburgh well and that even with up to 70% of bottles being diverted to recycling, huge volumes of plastic are still being dumped into landfill sites and ditches.