According to Corporate Accountability International, the House of Representatives spends at least $860,000 on bottled water a year. That's almost $2,000 for each representative.
But some are calling for change. "Congress is spending almost a million dollars annually on bottled water for itself that often carries misleading claims of purity, when water of equal or better quality is available through the public drinking water system installed here in the House," said Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). "Let's start cutting close to home and shifting our priorities from an entirely unnecessary expense to reinvesting in our nation's public water infrastructure."It's not news that Congress spends a lot on bottled water, but the study, "Tapping Congress to Get Off the Bottle," found that if Congress had redirected the money it spent between April 2009 and March 2010 on bottled water:
it could purchase more than 4,000 drinking fountains, 'bottle-less' coolers and water filtration units on Capitol Hill - more than enough for each Congressional office and a one-time investment in water infrastructure that would show Americans that Congress is serious about saving money and supporting public water.
The study also found that 70 percent of the bottled water was purchased from industry leader Nestlé.
"If fiscal responsibility is the aim of the incoming Congress, I would remind them that our tap water costs about a penny a gallon, and bottled water costs hundreds of times more," George S. Hawkins, general manager of DC's Water and Sewer Authority, said at the release of the report.
The Corporate Accountability report recommends Congress take the following actions:
• Phase out or reduce congressional spending on bottled water in both the House and the Senate;
• Further the investigation of the bottled water industry's regulation and increase congressional pressure on the industry to improve its transparency and disclosure practices; and
• Bolster support for our public water systems through programs and policies that boost public funding for, and investment in, water infrastructure.
It doesn't matter if the bottles Congress buys are compostable—it's a waste of money, and there's no guarantee the bottles are actually composted, which can mean the bottles sit in landfills producing one of the worst emissions culprits: methane. Plus bottled water, no matter how you look at it, is an irresponsible choice.
More on politics and bottled water
Congress Drinks Water in Compostable Bottles. Who Knew?
Enjoy Bottled Water with the Competitive Enterprise Institute
Town Prepares to Celebrate Going Bottled Water Free