Cities Promote Tap Water Because It’s Good Policy

One thing about the MN GOP campaign operatives take on Minneapolis’ tap water promotion PR campaign that stands out to me is that they’re pretending that Minneapolis is somehow unique in their efforts to promote tap water.

That’s an absurd assumption since Minneapolis’ tap water situation is not all that unique. Cities around the world are all dealing with:

1. Increased bottled water usage, which leads to . . .

2. Increased stress on the waste stream, which leads to . . .

3. An increased tax burden . . .

4. In a time when budgets are being squeezed.

So it makes sense to promote the public utility for a variety of reasons.

There is nothing particularly unique about what Minneapolis is doing. We’re among the first to move in this direction but we’re far from alone.

What Other Cities Are Doing to Promote Tap Water

– Republican stronghold, Grand Rapids, MI is participating in the Take Back the Tap challenge. They’ve also stopped distributing bottled water at city events. They were also the first city in the country to fluoride their water.

Tokyo is spending 1,870 million yen (more than $20 million) to promote tap water.

– London, England has a London on Tap campaign with branded carafes for restaurants.

New York City promoted tap water during Fashion Week.

Paris, France has been running an Eau de Paris campaign since March 2005.

The Waterloo region of Ontario is working to promote their municipal water: Comprised of staff from the Region of Waterloo, and the cities of Cambridge Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo, the group is working on ways to provide municipal drinking water at public events and joint awareness campaigns on tap water. In 2009, the group collaborated on a number of communications strategies including utility bill inserts, radio ads and advertising supplements.

Venice, Italy is working to up tap water use to help solve the city’s plastic trash issues.

Prague, Czech Republic is running a campaign to promote the serving of tap water in restaurants.

Toronto and London, Ontario have banned the sale of bottled water from within municipal buildings.

– New York City spent $700,000 in 2007 to market the city’s tap water. “During the month of July, the city will post 1,400 glossy ads that will line subways and bus kiosks. Additionally, you’ll be hearing plenty of radio ads convincing you to replace your soda with H2O.”

San Francisco banned the purchase of bottled water with city funds and installed water bottle refilling stations in the city.

– Amsterdam’s “Join the Pipe” program promotes tap water by selling refillable bottles. The revenue from the bottle sales goes to building refilling pumps.

– Vancouver, BC is working toward a goal of reducing their bottled water use by 20% in 2010.

Minneapolis’ investment in water marketing comes out of the reinvestment of revenues gained from selling water the city treats to surrounding suburbs:

The more water the city sells, the less residents will have to pay per gallon, says City Council Member Sandy Colvin-Roy, who chairs the Public Works Committee.

All revenue from water sales flows back into a separate fund, known as the water enterprise fund. The $180,000 spent on the new water marketing campaign also came from this fund. As suburban customers pay in to the water fund, water rates for Minneapolis residents should go down.

For even more examples of cities working to put common sense use of tap water above bottled water, click here.

This makes me wonder whether Minnesota’s Republican campaigners such as Marty Seifert’s staff actually took the time to look at why Minneapolis invested in a tap water PR campaign before attacking Rybak for doing so. Ubiquitous access to clean tap water doesn’t seem like a partisan issue to me. As far as I can tell, the only people against tap water promotion are GOP campaigners who are putting scoring cheap political points through misinformation over important policy debates.

5 thoughts on “Cities Promote Tap Water Because It’s Good Policy”

  1. I wonder if the campaign against tap water was specifically timed for March, when melting snows and runoff makes tap water (mine, at least) a little funky.

  2. Or during the Census. Who else w3ould mail letters to tell you they will be mailing another letter the following week? It’s enough to make this liberal agree with conservatives.

  3. After reading the tap water promotional material I immediately stopped using bottled water for the toilet, shower and laundry.

    In truth, it has been awhile since reading it, but I remember I found the information interesting, but that may be the science freak in me. I doubt many would take the time to read it. On the other hand, providing this information to citizens is within the role of government. Maybe there was a better way, but isn’t a big issue for me. Also, I enjoy the various information on Minneapolis’ website and I’m sure there is a large cost to maintain that too.

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