Ban city bottled water use to save money: Gioia bill

City Councilmen Eric Gioia (r.) and Simcha Felder (l.) announced they will introduce a bill that would prohibit the city from purchasing bottled water and water coolers, which Gioia said costs the city millions of dollars every year. Photo by Anna Gustafson
By Anna Gustafson

City officials may soon have to forego water bottles and revert to that seemingly long−forgotten water source — the faucet — when they want to quench their thirst should lawmakers pass a bill soon to be proposed by City Councilmen Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) and Simcha Felder (D−Brooklyn).

The lawmakers announced Sunday they will soon introduce legislation that would prohibit the city from purchasing bottled water and water coolers for government offices and city agencies. The move would save the city, strapped for cash in the ever−tanking economy, millions of dollars, according to Gioia.

“New York City has some of the cleanest and best−tasting tap water in the world, and we should use it,” Gioia said at a Sunday press conference at City Hall. “There is no reason to be paying a thousand times more to use bottled water, which also hurts the environment and contributes to traffic congestion. This is a common−sense and environmentally friendly proposal that will save the city money.”

The approximate $2 million the city could save would come from eliminating the cost to buy, ship, store and dispose of the bottles. The city spends $2.1 million annually on bottled water, according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

City officials have been using bottled water for the last decade, which Gioia called a “fad” that was going out of style thanks to environmental concerns surrounding the bottles.

Gioia said environmental concerns played a role in wanting to eliminate the bottles that critics have said clog up landfills.

New Yorkers purchased more than 31 billion bottles of water in 2006, of which only 10 percent were recycled, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Banning water bottle purchases by city agencies would help to reduce air pollution, the two council members said. According to the Earth Policy Institute, 1.5 million barrels of oil is used to produce the water bottles that Americans consume annually.

Very little oil is used to bring New Yorkers the water that flows from their taps, as it is gravity that brings the water from the reservoirs and lakes to city residents’ faucets.

Gioia and Felder praised the move, saying it could decrease the amount of traffic on the roads because trucks would not be delivering water to city agencies. According to Gioia, trucks often park outside government offices and buildings while delivering water, causing traffic jams.

Environmentalists have thrown their weight behind the bill.

“This legislation is a win−win for the taxpayer and the environment,” Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said in a prepared statement. “At a time when vital programs are threatened with budget cuts, this legislation will help the city save money while reducing our carbon footprint. New Yorkers can also rest easy, knowing that their tap water is monitored and inspected to a far greater degree than bottled water.”

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