The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution Monday urging mayors to promote tap water and phase out bottled water purchases by their city governments.
Mayor John Cook, who was unable to attend the Miami conference, drinks tap water only and has recommended that El Paso Water Utilities bottle its desalinated water as a way to promote El Paso’s tap water, city spokeswoman Julie Lozano said.
Furthermore, “City Manager Joyce Wilson has restricted department heads from purchasing bottled water for their employees,” Lozano said. “Employees can purchase bottled water on their own but not with city funds.”
The county of El Paso adopted a similar restriction in 1997, “as part of a cost-elimination measure,” spokeswoman Araceli Lazcano said.
Corporate Accountability International, an advocacy group based in Boston, pushed the national resolution, which is non-binding but a way to save taxpayers money and reduce waste generated by plastic bottles. Supporters include the mayors of Austin, New York, San Francisco and Albuquerque, as well as restaurants and faith groups throughout the nation.
The organization said U.S. consumers spend $11 billion a year on bottled water and cities spend $70 million a year to dispose of the plastic bottles.
Central El Paso resident Jorge Almada said he is opposed to local governments spending taxpayers’ money to buy bottled water.
“I’m totally against this. I drink tap water myself,” Almada said. “They need to spend the money on something else.”
The International Bottled Water Association in Alexandria, Va., which criticized the resolution, said in a statement “it ignores the bottle water industry’s long history of environmental stewardship, its light-weighting of plastic containers, the fact that every bottled water container is 100 percent recyclable and the industry’s support for broad-based, single-stream community recycling efforts.