Bottled water information misleading

In the piece, Andrea Klassen quotes local Catholic development and peace chairman Barry Nelson who, unfortunately, has based his objections to bottled water on information that has long been confirmed as false — mythology one typically finds on anti-bottled water activists’ websites or in circulars published by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Re: “Lobby to avoid plastic heats up,” April 14

In the piece, Andrea Klassen quotes local Catholic development and peace chairman Barry Nelson who, unfortunately, has based his objections to bottled water on information that has long been confirmed as false — mythology one typically finds on anti-bottled water activists’ websites or in circulars published by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

The federal government purchases bottled water for use by, for example, our armed forces worldwide; those government employees who work in remote locations or in older buildings where lead contamination is present; and native and other populations in Canada’s north and elsewhere across the country where there is no potable water. Last year, there were 1,500 boil-water advisories nation-wide.

The inference by Mr. Nelson that money spent on bottled water represents an investment that is not being made in municipal water and sewer infrastructure is simply illogical. Canadians pay local, provincial and federal taxes, partly so that government at all levels will invest in water and sewer infrastructure construction and maintenance. They spend their after-tax or disposable income on many consumer items, including bottled water. They do not spend money on bottled water at the expense of tap water.

In contrast to his statement about the privatization of water in developing countries, the bottled water industry simply isn’t a significant factor in the global access-to-water debate: agriculture    uses 70 per cent of total available fresh water, industry 20 per cent; domestic users 10 per cent; bottled water industry well less than one per cent.

If Mr. Nelson and others wish to protect this valuable resource for future generations, they should give consideration to calling on government to make water and sewer infrastructure development and maintenance a priority; make residential, commercial, and industrial water takers pay their fair share of the real cost of water consumption; address the inefficient use of water by municipalities, agriculture, and industries; and require treatment of wastewater before it is returned to rivers, lakes, and oceans.

John B. Challinor II, Director of Corporate Affairs Nestlé Waters Canada