Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The Chicago Water Story

It's the Chicago way: to avoid paying Chicago's new nickel-a-container tax on bottled water, make the switch to Chicago tap water and get hold of one of the City-offered stainless drinking bottles. Wean yourself from plastic bottles, and City expenses for trash pickup go down, while revenues for tap water go up. Dependence on fossil fuel is reduced. Those who won't change cause they need to suck on plastic or forget their Ba-Bahs subsidize the stainless refillables. Nice. Mike Royko would have loved it.

Chicago is a Green Machine.

As part of a "Tap Water Delivers" campaign scheduled to launch in January just as the tax takes effect, the Daley administration plans to give away or sell blue, red and green stainless steel containers emblazoned with messages about conserving water and hydrating to maintain good health.

If the campaign succeeds in driving down the $10.5 million in revenue the city hopes to receive from the bottled water tax, so be it, said Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna.

Implied, but not stated, is the fact that the city wins either way. The mayor's budget also includes a $43.9 million increase in water rates. And if enough consumers make the switch to tap water and stop throwing away so many empty plastic bottles, the city's waste-hauling and landfill costs will decline.

"There's been a huge transition. People have gone to buying a lot of bottled water. It becomes a habit. You carry that vessel, you buy that Evian. So we're trying to get people into the habit of carrying their own product around and going to their water cooler at school or work to fill it up," Malec-McKenna said.

Still to be determined is whether the stainless steel containers are given away or sold at participating retailers and, if so, at what price.

"It's going to be a combination. It depends on the economics of it. We're going to have to take a look at the costs associated," she said.

In other Chicago-land coverage of this we noted:- "CBS 2 put a name-brand water to the test against filtered water from the tap. Almost two-thirds of our 40 testers either preferred the tap water or couldn't tell the difference." Wow. That is significant because "Three out of four Americans drink bottled water, one out of five drinks only bottled water," said Elizabeth Martin Craig of Think Outside the Bottle.

Via::The Post-Tribune, "Daley wins on water regardless of source" and CBS-2, "Politicians, Activists Hoping To Reduce Bottled Water Consumption Through Taxes, Awareness" Image credit::Chicago Tours, the water front.

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