by Arthur Calidicott
The bottled water industry enjoyed impressive growth until 2007, the result of relentless advertising, ubiquitous availability, and a propaganda assault on public water systems. 2.36 billion litres of water were sold in Canada in 2006, worth an estimated $708 million. In the US in 2007, 33.3 billion litres were sold for $11.5 billion.
In 2008, growth turned negative. Recession squeezed shoppers' wallets, and bottled water fell off their shopping lists. It wasn't just recession, though. People weren't buying the lie about unsafe tap water. And mountains of bottles in blue boxes and landfills were evidence that there were more consequences to bottled water than just water.
"Tap water" campaigns started to show some real successes, led in Canada by the Council of Canadians, and given a boost in 2009 by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). FCM urged municipalities to phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water, and to develop awareness campaigns about the positive benefits and quality of municipal water supplies. It has found real traction in municipal governments.