Guelph, Ontario Looks to Eliminate Bottled Water from City Offices

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Guelph, Canada

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Type: Policy

Status: Announced on 10/10/08

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The City of Guelph will begin to provide its staff and facility-users with increased access to municipal drinking water and phase-in the removal of bottled water and water coolers from its offices and facilities.

An action plan to promote municipal drinking water in City buildings by making it more accessible was received by the Community Development and Environmental Services Committee at a meeting this morning. The plan also outlines the phase-out of bottled water sales in City facilities where it is appropriate and practical.

City staff is currently evaluating numerous chilled water fountains to determine the most convenient way to deliver municipal tap water in City buildings. The City plans to make municipal drinking water available at drinking fountains equipped with chillers and taps so staff and facility users can easily fill reusable bottles.

“The City wants to lead by example by making municipal water easily accessible in its facilities,” says Janet Laird, Director of Environmental Services. “The City of Guelph does an excellent job managing our drinking water system and we are confident that our municipal drinking water is of the highest quality.”

Guelph’s municipal drinking water undergoes more than 18,000 microbiological and chemical tests each year to ensure it meets or exceeds the provincial drinking water quality standards. Guelph water is among the highest quality of water in the province and around the world.

City staff from various departments will work together to discuss the phase-out of bottled water sales in public facilities and to identify options for making municipal drinking water accessible to facility users.

Eliminating bottled water will also help to reduce the amount of waste generated. The production and distribution of bottled water also has significant impacts on the environment, including the resources and energy consumed, fuel used in transportation, and the greenhouse gases emitted.

Committee also directed staff to explore potential recycling initiatives with the beverage industry to increase waste diversion in public spaces.

As part of this initiative the City of Guelph is also looking for ways to make drinking water available at public events in the community. The City has worked with Hillside Festival organizers to provide municipal drinking water at the festival for the past two years and is currently evaluating methods to make water easily accessible at community events in the future.