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Seattle Mayor Tells Citizens to Drink Up– From the Tap!

Stop Buying Bottled Water, Nickels Urges Seattleites
By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter

When Mayor Greg Nickels drives in his car, he carries a plastic container filled with tap water.
He says it's his small effort to save the environment.

This morning, Nickels launched a bigger mission: To try to get Seattleites to stop buying bottled water.

With a five-foot-tall stack of water bottles and 56 oil barrels as a backdrop at Westlake Park, Nickels said buying bottled water costs 2,400 times as much as drinking tap water — and Seattle has some of the best city water in the world.

The stack of water bottles represented the number of empty bottles that end up in the city's garbage every 37 minutes. The oil barrels represented the amount of oil consumed to make and transport the bottled water that Seattle consumes in 12 hours.

Nickels said the city charges one third of a cent for a gallon of water, compared to an average of 79 cents for a pint of bottled water.

"Americans used 60 billion pint bottles of water last year," said Nickels. "That required 1 million tons of plastic and generated 2.5 million tons of greenhouse gases."

Seattle residents use the equivalent of about 354,000 pint bottles of water each day. That equals about 41,000 barrels of oil, creating 5,400 tons of greenhouse gases.

Nickels said the city's two water sources, the Cedar and Tolt rivers, produce "gold standard" water, and tap water is better than bottled water because it contains fluoride.

In March, Nickels directed the city to stop buying bottled water, estimating it could save taxpayers as much as $57,000 a year.

Nickels calls his efforts a "drinking up campaign."

"What flows from our taps is some of the finest-tasting, purest-source water in the world," he said. "That's why it makes little sense for Seattleites to waste their money on bottled water."

Nickels said all Seattle residents will receive a water report card in the mail, explaining the quality of the city's drinking water.

"We're asking all citizens to join our drink-up campaign," Nickels said.

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