With tap water safe and abundant in the U.S., Peter H. Gleick looks at why so many Americans drink their water from plastic bottles -- many of which end up in massive landfills.
Gleick, recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, argues for a new perspective on water management in his book, "Bottled and Sold The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water."
Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
Tap water is poison. —A flyer touting the stock of a Texas bottled water company.
When we're done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes. —Susan Wellington, president of the Quaker Oats Company's United States beverage division.
September 15, 2007, was a big day for the alumni, family, and fans of the University of Central Florida and the UCF Knights football team. After years of waiting and hoping, the University of Central Florida had finally built their own football stadium—the new Bright House Networks arena. Under clear skies, and with temperatures nearing 100 degrees, a sell-out crowd of 45,622 was on hand to watch the first-ever real UCF home game against the Texas Longhorns, a national powerhouse. "I never thought we'd see this, but we sure are proud to have a stadium on campus," said UCF alumnus and Knight fan Tim Ball as he and his family tailgated in the parking lot before the game. And in an exciting, three-hour back-and-forth contest, the UCF Knights almost pulled off an upset before losing in the final minutes 35 to 32.
Knight supporters were thrilled and left thirsting for more— literally. Fans found out the hard way that their new $54-million stadium had been built without a single drinking water fountain. And for "security" reasons, no one could bring water into the stadium. The only water available for overheated fans was $3 bottled water from the concessionaires or water from the bathroom taps, and long before the end of the game, the concessionaires had run out of bottled water. Eighteen people were taken to local hospitals and sixty more were treated by campus medical personnel for heat-related illnesses. The 2004 Florida building code, in effect in 2005 when the UCF Board of Trustees approved the stadium design, mandated that stadiums and other public arenas have a water fountain for every 1,000 seats, or half that number if "bottled water dispensers" are available. 1 Under these requirements, the arena should have been built with at least twenty water fountains. Furthermore, a spokesman for the International Code Council in Washington, which developed Florida's building code, said, "Selling bottled water out of a concession stand is not what the code meant."