Bottled water ban not based on facts

Re: UVic SUB no longer selling bottled water (News, Nov. 23)

Re: UVic SUB no longer selling bottled water (News, Nov. 23)

In the piece, reference was made to the University of Victoria Students’ Society referendum and the decision by Saanich council to ban the sale of bottled water in its facilities.

Both events were founded on information long confirmed as false — mythology one typically finds on anti-bottled water activists’ websites.

Further, well less than 50 per cent of UVic students even participated in the referendum. Saanich residents were not consulted at all.

Independent research firm Quantis International found that bottled water has the lightest carbon footprint of any bottled beverage, whether measured by water or petroleum product use or greenhouse gas emissions.

The average bottle of water travels about 250 kilometres from source to shelf. That compares to 2,400 to 3,200 km for fresh fruit and vegetables and most consumer packaged goods, according to Washington agricultural consultant Dan Murphy.

The recycling rate in B.C. for plastic beverage containers, including bottled water, was almost 80 per cent last year, according to Encorp Pacific the industry steward responsible for such recycling.

Next year, through Encorp Pacific’s leadership, B.C. will become just the second jurisdiction in North America (behind Manitoba) to have a permanent, province-wide public spaces recycling program to complement its depot and curbside recycling programs.

What should be of concern to UVic administrators and students is a 2009 Toronto District School Board report that enunciated the problems associated with banning the sale of bottled water in educational facilities.

Board staff wrote “students have access to 35 per cent of the water needed for proper hydration during the school day,” and when bottled water was temporarily removed as part of their study into the matter, “of those students who normally purchased bottled water at school, 22 per cent drank nothing at all and those who substituted pop or soft drinks for water outnumbered those who chose milk or juice.”

Staff warned there is a direct link between hydration and brain function and “a mere two per cent drop in body water can trigger short-term fuzzy memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on a computer screen.”

While we are opposed to any banning of bottled water on campus, we are not opposed to filtered-water filling stations or water fountains, as long as operating funds are in place to properly maintain them.

We simply believe staff and students have the right to select and consume the beverage of their choice.

UVic’s administration is to be commended for resisting overtures by the students’ union to ban the sale of bottled water on campus, thereby putting the health of its staff and students ahead of all other considerations.

John B. Challinor II

Director of corporate affairs

Nestlé Waters Canada