Bottled water is supposedly so “wasteful” that the U.S. Conference of Mayors had to issue a resolution calling on governments to stop buying it. But what do they say when government tap water fails to meet safety standards? Drink bottled water! That is one of the recommendations offered by public officials in Pembroke, Massachusetts, which discovered E. coli bacteria in its water supply. Governments often buy, or seek donations of, large amounts of bottled water to use in such emergencies. And they seek bottled water not only during major weather events. Tap water systems periodically have water quality problems for a variety of reasons that warrant “boil water alerts” and/or distribution of bottled water.
Public officials should remember before they tax, ban, or otherwise discredit the bottled water industry that, when push comes to shove, bottled water meets the needs of those people who choose to buy it—including government itself. And if officials are going to ask bottled water companies to provide their water for free in times of emergency (as they often voluntarily do), they would be wise not to put them out of business beforehand!