Gov. Kulongoski, let's get Oregon off the bottle

By Meg Imholt of Portland, Oregon. Meg is the Green Corps Organizer for Corporate Accountability International's Think Outside the Bottle Campaign, working to promote, protect, and ensure public funding for our public water systems.

It's no secret that Oregon's in the red. As government furlough days seem to be happening with regularity, every dollar begs the question: Do we really need this?

$90,000 of Oregon's dwindling dollars are headed straight for the bottle - the water bottle, that is, according to Corporate Accountability International's latest edition of Getting States off the Bottle.

Bottled water costs thousands times more than tap water. But that doesn't even begin to cover it's true costs. Add in waste generated, carbon emissions from manufacturing, packaging and distributing those bottles, groundwater drained in vulnerable areas, and the cost of relying upon corporations instead of our public water systems for the human right to water and $90,000 is just the beginning.

But wait, how else would Oregon s government hydrate during meetings, conferences, events, and other stately operations?

Ooooohhhhhhhhhhh, that s right. Tap water which happens to be regulated by our state government costs less than a penny a gallon, is far more sustainable, and supports public water systems. With that same $90,000 the state could have installed over 100 water fountains with filters to supply clean, sustainable water for reusable bottles, making a smart and sustainable choice.

So, lets revisit the question: Do we really need this?

It's a no-brainer. What we need is an Executive Order ending state spending on bottled water.

New York, Virginia, and Illinois have already taken action on bottled water. It's time for Governor Kulongoski to step it up.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    This is a great post about an important environmental issue. Many environmental activists get up in arms over big land use battles, but seem to forget the ongoing problem of our throwaway consumer mentality. There are so many issues with bottled water, such as misuse of water rights by corporations such as Coke and Nestle, the energy used to make the plastic, the insane cost of bottled water (more than gasoline) and the obscene amount of discarded cans and bottles. The 2007 OR leg made an improvement by making OR one of three or four of the ten bottle bills states that has a water bottle deposit. It's still the measly nickel set in '71, which would be 25 cents if indexed for inflation. Hopefully, Ben Cannon's bottle bill passes next session.

    I had never thought of the issue of OR and other states spending so much $ on bottled water. Thanks, Meg, for bring it to our attention.

    We can also take action with corporate water bottle policies. I turn down the free bottles from LaQuitna and recently wrote them asking them to stop giving them to customers.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Thanks, Meg, for this post and your advocacy on the issue.

    To Grant Schott: Have you heard that the dreaded Nestle is hoping to locate a bottled-water plant at Cascade Locks?

    The source of the water would be a spring which is controlled by Oregon Fish & Wildlife Dept. Currently, the water is used for a fish hatchery.

    I hear the political leadership of Cascade Locks is all in favor of the plant, as tax revenues would definitely increase.

    But, for all the reasons you and Meg have cited, along with the factor of increased diesel traffic through the Gorge, I sure hope the State will deny Nestle use of the spring.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Sure boys and girls, what are your alternatives for the 50 or so jobs you would deny Cascade Locks in such a cavalier manner?

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    A eagerly await the depletion of the Columbia basin watershed by the Evil Nestle's.

    The truly environmentally responsible approach would be to just pay the citizens of Cascade Locks to do nothing at all rather than trying to get real jobs.


    Me? I rarely drink bottled water, and when/if I do, those plastic bottles are refillable at the tap.

    You're correct that it's largely a scam, but so is most alternative medicine, and the state of Oregon just might be spending some amount more than 90k out of a (what?) 15b budget, on other useless projects that don't deliver paying jobs in the process.

  • fisherbob (unverified)

    If you also want to sign the petition against Nestle stealing our water:

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    I dectect a note of smugness in Kurt Chapman's referring to other posters as "boys and girls", as if he were coming to this from a more grownup perspective.

    Anyway, how the heck did we have a great economy not too long ago (the '50s and '60s) when such wastes of resources such as petroleum-based plastic disposable bottles and single-use bags were not available?

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    And thanks to fisherbob for the petition link.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I read the The Oregonian guest column by the pres of the Cascade Lock's Port in support of the proposed Nestle bottling facility. As someone who grew up in a poor timber dependant county, I am sympathetic to him and C.L, . but still totally opposed to bottled water and the practices of Nestle and similar companies in locking down water rights. This is bad enough in this country and can have devastating effects in 3rd world countries where clean accesible water is never to be taken for granted.

    <h2>I also wonder why C.L., near Portland and on the Columbia River, I 84 and railroad, have such economic difficulties.</h2>
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