Upstate Water — So Good They Want to Bottle It?

There is a reason tap water is just as good as bottled water. A great deal of bottled water IS tap water.  Now Upstate New York has a lot of water, but also a delicate ecosystem. Thus are Nestle’s plans to tap into the Tug Hill plateau raising controversy.

As Brian Nearing writes in today’s Albany Times Union:

Nestle, the world’s largest seller of bottled water with 72 brands in 37 countries, has set its sights on the region’s deep springs under plans to extract water from the state to satisfy a growing consumer thirst.

Last month, the company’s North American division announced plans to buy a 450-acre farm in Orwell, Oswego County, for a 1.5 million-gallons-a-day, $100 million bottling plant. The property is several miles north of the Salmon River, one of the state’s premier fisheries, and in the heart of the state’s lake-effect snow belt.

Nestle, which also is scouting for springs near the Catskills and in central New York, has drawn attention from Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups, which are concerned that pumping so much water could damage the Salmon River and cold-water fish like brook trout and salmon.

And that’s in addition to mounting criticism that bottled water wastes fossil fuels and worsens global warming.

Kirt Mayland, director of the Eastern Water Project for Trout Unlimited … outlined the group’s concerns Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Mayland said environmentalists want a detailed study on how Nestle’s proposal could affect the aquifer. They also want the company to support efforts to extend the bottle recycling law to water and other noncarbonated beverages.

The dispute comes as the bottled water industry, which sold more than 8.25 billion gallons in this country last year, is under increasing pressure from critics who see it as a wasteful alternative to tap water while generating millions of extra plastic bottles.

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