Past Event

Café Society: The High Cost of Drinking Water

Bottled water has become today’s must-have accessory. Almost overnight, the ubiquitous clear plastic bottles appeared in our hands, and the bottled water industry was born. Studies have consistently shown that the bottled variety is no better than your average tap water in taste or purity. With bottled water costing between 250 and 10,000 times more than tap, what accounts for this trend?

A part of this cost difference is necessitated by the cost of manufacturing the bottles, and the fuel required to ship the product to market. In an industrialized nation with reliable municipal water systems, is this a good idea? What does it say about us when we scorn reliable tap water in favor of a designer version, while billions of people around the planet have no access to safe water at all?

In many developing nations, access to safe water has taken on a political component. In some instances, the IMF or World Bank has imposed privatization of water utilities as a condition for loans. This has resulted in angry and sometimes violent protest from citizens when privatization has resulted in higher prices.

Is privatization of such a basic resource a good idea, especially when, in some cases, it can serve to limit access to clean water, not expand it? The basic fact of the matter is that water is a necessity, we cannot live without it. Why isn’t it seen as a part of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.

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