County Bans Bottled Water Purchases

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The Suffolk County Legislature last week passed a bill prohibiting county government from buying bottles with single servings of water.?Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, who authored the bill, said the ban is “another step in the protection of our environment.”?The bill was approved 15-1 at a meeting March 18 in Hauppauge and has gone to County Executive Steve Levy for his consideration. Mr. Levy said he is “still deliberating” the measure.?Ironically, the legislature voted on the bill while many had plastic bottles of Poland Spring water, which had been distributed by the presiding officer, sitting on the tables in front of them.?Ms. Fisher said that the single servings of bottled water each cost “a thousand times more” than tap water provided by the Suffolk County Water Authority. Moreover, the authority’s water is regularly rated among the best in the United States, she said.?Ms. Fisher also argued that large amounts of petroleum are used to create the plastic water bottles and only a small number of them are recycled. ?According to the bill, “supplying the plastic water bottles that are purchased in the United States annually requires more than 47 million gallons of oil” and the production of the bottles “results in the release of the equivalent of 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”?The measure bars any money being “expended for the purchase of single serving bottled water … by any Suffolk County department, office or agency.”?Commenting on the appearance of the bottles of Poland Spring water “all across the horseshoe” at which legislators sat Tuesday, Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk said that there has only been a “sudden realization” by the legislators of the “environmental problems associated with the plastic water bottles.” He credited Ms. Fisher of East Setauket and Neil Lewis, executive director of the Neighborhood Network, who has crusaded against bottled water, for “educating” the lawmakers about the problem.

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