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Town Meeting Preview: The Water Bottle Bylaw

Article 38 will examine whether or not a bylaw should be established to prevent the sale of single serving water bottles.

When Article 38 is heard at Town Meeting next week, proponents are hoping it sets a precedent in the war against bottled beverages. Opponents, though, are seeing the article as a costly item that will take money away from Concord business owners.

For supporters of the article, banning single serving plastic water bottles would prevent wasteful plastic from being produced. Residents, they believe, would instead turn to the municipal water supply in town and fill their own reusable bottles.

Speaking on behalf of Jean Hill (the lead supporter of the article), that while bottled water is expedient to many, a quick fix is not worth some of the long-term repercussions.

“(Hill) believes that bottled water is inconsistent with our values and that as a community, we care about the impact of our choices, and we are willing to choose actions that help our world without being driven by what’s convenient,” said Appel.

Those whose livelihood depends on providing convenience and/or basic necessities to residents are up in arms over the article. Business owners like Elizabeth Akehurst-Moore, owner of , depend on the sales of bottled water, particularly in a tough economy.

“Bottled water is the number one selling beverage in the store, which says a lot considering how many types of beverages we sell,” she said.

Akehurst-Moore added that customers look for the bottles for a variety of reasons, including Little League coaches who want to distribute water to players and a group of walkers who recently wanted to take the bottles on their trek during a multiple sclerosis fundraiser.

“A ton of active people come in and grab a bottle of water,” she said. “I think it could take away from that active lifestyle.”

One argument against Article 38 suggests that should bottled water not be an option for residents, particularly kids, consumers might instead reach for a sugary drink. But Janet Lawson, the reason that water is being singled out is twofold. The first, she said, is that an “environmentally friendly alternative” to bottled water can already be found in the taps of homeowners. The other, she said, relates to “undermining support for water as a commons” and not pumping that money into local water resources.

“We should be proud of our public water systems, among the best in the world, and keep it that way by supporting our public water infrastructure,” she wrote.

For others, though, establishing a bylaw against single serving water bottles takes away consumer choice and mandates a certain type of behavior.

“Why is Concord, a town whose foundation is based on valuing individual freedoms, suddenly willing to limit personal choice when it comes to a basic human need such as water?”

For a business owner like Akehurst-Moore, taking away consumer choice in Concord means that current customers will spend their money in other communities.

“I know (article proponents) have said that they’ve gone around and talked to business owners, but no one has talked to me yet,” said Akehurst-Moore. “It’s worrisome from a commerce point of view that people could just go to the store next town over.”

Whatever the Town of Concord chooses next week, it is a likely conclusion that this is an issue that will not rest any time soon.

“I have no problem with providing education on these issues,” said Akehurst-Moore, “but I do have a problem with banning items like these.”

Articles 38, as well as Article 39, which is a resolution to discourage the sale or use of single serving bottled drinking water, are expected to be heard on Tuesday evening after 8 p.m.

Mac59 April 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM
In addition to hurting the businesses in Concord, the tourism business that the town so depends on, we will have an expense in enforcing such a ridiculous ban. More government and oversight is not what is needed during a fragile economy. What Jean Hill and Jill Appel may have overlooked is that approximately 10-15% of Concord households have well water. It is water that must be tested to see if it safe to drink on a regular basis. They households do not have water during a power outage, as the pumps do not work without electricity. Bottled water on hand is critical. It is not an article that is inclusive or in the best interest of everyone.
Bob Andrews April 22, 2011 at 02:25 PM
There is nothing in either of the bottled water articles on the Warrant that would interfere with having bottled water on hand or, for that matter, drinking it on a regular basis. The target for elimination is the single-serve bottle. For those who want to pay the price, all larger bottles would remain available, as well as dispensers within the home. You can also filter your own tap water if you don't like the taste. Getting rid of the single serve bottles, whether through a ban or through personal choice, would provide enormous benefits to people everywhere, and to all of our fellow creatures on this planet. Let's not just react to this with knee jerk contrariness (Nobody should tell us what to do!). Why not look at the benefits for all of us if we accept a little inconvenience and change our behavior? Smart business people will adapt by promoting the larger bottles, by selling reusable bottles, and by putting in water dispensers that will provide filtered tap water that is known to be healthy for a much lower cost than the bottled water products.
Mac59 April 22, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Wells can be contaminated and filtration systems will not make it drinkable. Most people with wells have such filtration and waters softening systems, but testing is still required, particularly if you live in an area with horses, etc. If you drive by houses and see brown staining on them chances are their well is high in maganese and iron. Business are under enough pressure with expenses. The cost of enforcement of this article if passed, will ulitmately be passed onto the citizens of Concord.
Bill Montague April 22, 2011 at 03:49 PM
What about the plastic that the bottles are made of migrating into the so called "pure water"? I you don't mind adding more toxins to your body then drinking from plastic containers is just fine. As for myself I drink "reverse osmosis" filtered water and have been form at least 12 years. Our world takes one step forward and two backwards. Keeping healthy today with all the toxins we are exposed to is a major problem we all face! The economic hardship is a poor excuse in my estimation. When the automobile came along it put all the Stable Owners out of business - so for them it was an economic hardship. Our world is changing very fast as you all know. The plastic bottle problem in the world will not be solved over night - but Jean Hill's Bill is a step in the right direction! Bill Montague
JoeHadenough10 April 24, 2011 at 12:56 AM
Put a SIN tax on all Coca Cola, Nestle Waters, and PepsiCo single use bottles and cans, of 10cents each to be used to upgrade municipal water infrastructure. Why you're at put an extra 15cents for every single use bottle and can for returnable recycle fee that will clean up their trash.

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