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Bottled water industry is the thin edge of water privatization
The United Church of Canada is urging its three million members across the country to avoid bottled water as a way of taking a personal stand against water privatization.
Thunder Bay (22 August 2006) - The United Church of Canada Delegates at the general church council in Thunder Bay passed a resolution declaring water "a sacred gift that connects all life" and proclaiming that its "value to the common good must take priority over commercial interests."
The church put the issue on its agenda after congregations in London, Hamilton and Montreal expressed concern over a growing trend toward private water ownership and the potential for environmental harm. Interest in the issue was also expressed by churches in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
'The thin edge'
Richard Chambers, social policy co-ordinator for the church's national office, said bottled water is "the thin edge" of a much larger trend toward the global marketing of water by companies such as Coca-Cola (which owns Dasani) and Pepsi-Cola (which owns Aquafina).
The church is not calling for a formal boycott of bottled water but it is asking members to avoid buying it wherever possible as a means of raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of privatization.
Safety is also an issue. Contrary to what many believe, municipal tap water is often healthier than bottled water because plastic bottles break down over time and can leech impurities. Relying on tap water also avoids environmental issues associated with disposable water bottles.
The church is urging the Canadian government to sign a United Nations convention recognizing water as a human right and to offer assistance to provinces and municipalities to upgrade water infrastructure.
The Canadian Bottled Water Association, founded in 1992, now represents about 100 companies and accounts for 80% to 85% of all bottled water sold in Canada. The industry had an estimated $650 million in sales in Canada in 2003.