Barbara Sarmento of Farmington wasn’t able to tell which of the four cups contained the tap water from West Hartford.
“I try to drink bottled water, but now that I see how little difference there is I may be switching to tap,” Sarmento said Wednesday.
Making the switch to tap water is exactly what Corporate Accountability International wants the state of Connecticut to do. While Sarmento thought about how much money she could save by drinking tap water at home, Corporate Accountability International wants the state to think about how much money it could save taxpayers by switching to tap water.
In a recent report the organization found that the state spends more than $220,000 a year on bottled water. That’s down from the $500,000 it spent on bottled water in 2008.
“Our concern: spending taxpayer dollars on bottled water is wasteful and sends the absolute wrong message about the quality of our tap water,” Leila Alciere, regional campaign organizer for Corporate Accountability International, said.
Alciere and Corporate Accountability International believe the marketing of bottled water has eroded public confidence in the tap to the extent that “one in five people drink only bottled water,” she said.
Alciere called on Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to sign an executive order suspending state spending on all bottled water.
Rell’s office said she already ended two of the state’s three bottled water contracts almost a year ago.
The state’s one remaining contract is with the departments of Transportation, Public Safety, and Motor Vehicles. Since those agencies often work in locations were there is no potable water.
“It would be incorrect for anyone to say that the state allows any agency to utilize bottled water under our current contract,” Adam Liegeot, Rell’s spokesman, said.
State Rep,. Richard Roy, D-Milford, said he’s introduced bills to ban bottled water, but they haven’t gone very far. He said the bills passed committee and then died on the House calendar because “there’s not much fervor in leadership,” to get them passed.
As far as saving money, Roy said he thinks the money saved by not buying bottled water should be used to help people on Medicare pay for their prescription drugs. Alciere said the money should be spent on improving Connecticut’s water infrastructure.
Brian J. Flaherty, vice president of government affairs for Nestlé Waters North America Inc., said Corporate Accountability International is “manufacturing competition between bottled and tap water where none exists.”