DC Water Urges Congress to Cut Bottled Water Budget

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IMAGE CREDIT: dcwater.com

Congress spent $190,000 on bottled water during the first quarter of 2010 alone. As of this writing, many members of Congress were reticent to drink DC’s tap water after past studies showed the tap water contained unsafe levels of lead. Over the years, DC tap water has received quite the bad reputation.

DC Water is working to change that. As Tap It Water reports, George S. Hawkins, general manager of the area water utility DC Water, wrote a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner urging him to cut bottled water from the budget. As an incentive, Hawkins offered to supply each member of Congress with free reusable water bottles. He also offered free water quality testing in congressional buildings, “including taps and water fountains.”

There are more than hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake here. After all, if Congress refuses to take DC Water up on their offer, how can they expect DC residents to drink the city’s tap water? Congress would essentially be acknowledging that DC tap water is unsafe, and that they were quite okay with spending more money to ignore the problem rather than fix it outright.

Here’s a novel idea: Rather than spending $190,000 on bottled water each quarter (which amounts to $760,000 a year), why doesn’t Congress invest more money into DC Water, thereby eliminating the need for bottled water in the first place and giving DC residents safe water in their own homes?

Please note we’re not saying that DC Water needs to even take extra precautions. It seems water quality in DC is on the up-and-up. In a blind taste test, DC tap water was preferred over bottled water. DC Water has also set up new facilities around town, and they’ve become more transparent.  DC Water’s FAQ page addresses and answers concerns about various contaminants.

Should the GOP Cut Bottled Water Budget?

Deer Park Bottled WaterIn just the first quarter of last year, the House spent a whopping $190,000 on bottled water ($120,000 of that went to Deer Park water). John Boehner, the new house speaker, says he will move to cut budgets by 5 percent starting tomorrow. Will the bottled water budget be included in these cuts?

Bradford Fitch, the CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, maintains that the House’s consumption of bottled water is not a luxury, but a necessity due to “D.C. tap water’s reputation.”

Washington, D.C.’s tap water reputation was certainly sullied when it was discovered that the tap water contained unsafe levels of lead.

But DC tap water has come a long way in the last few years. In a blind taste test, DC tap water was preferred over bottled water. DC Water has also set up new facilities around town, and they’ve become more transparent.  DC Water’s FAQ page addresses and answers concerns about various contaminants. It specifically details what DC water is doing to ensure lead doesn’t enter into home tap water.

Is all of this enough to convince the House to scale back on their bottled water consumption? Should it be? And what does it say about Congress if they’re content to let DC residents drink tap water that they themselves will not drink or attempt to fix?