The B.T. Brown Water Treatment Plant in Coweta County, Georgia, is now a licensed water bottling facility. Though the plant has been bottling water for a while now, the commercial license and machinery allows them to sell the water, rather than just give it away. By selling the water with custom-printed labels, Coweta County hopes to recover some of the cost of running the plant. The upside to this is that it helps fund a constant clean water source for residents in this part of Georgia while maintaining a full-time staff at the plant. The problem: those who actually buy the bottled water are knowingly paying for something they can get for free – municipally sourced water.
Kudos to the workers at B.T. Brown for their honesty, since most bottled water IS tap water anyway – a fact that companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are reluctant to admit. But if consumers know that the water sold in plastic bottles (which are bad for the environment) is the same stuff that flows from their tap, why would they buy it? Perhaps for the same reason a woman would pay thousands for a Gucci handbag – the label. The water bottle labels are custom-printed right at the plant, and according to general manager, Ellis Cadenhead, “price depends on a number of factors, including the number of colors on the label.”
Up until now, the plant had been bottling water by hand. The machinery that is used to mass produce the bottled water and custom printed labels cost about $76,000. The bottled water sold will, of course, go toward recouping that investment – an investment that was probably unnecessary in the first place. The plant claims that it is trying to provide something local for companies, organizations and groups. While I’m sure all intentions are good, local organizations would do better to invest in reusable bottles that they can refill with local water. I’m sure the nearest office supply store carries clear, blank labels that can be “custom-printed” right from your home printer, if you’re that desperate. You could even create your own “Gucci-labeled” reusable water bottle and sell it on e-bay for hundreds. No one needs to know it’s a knock-off.