Environmental groups were excited to see their lobbying efforts against bottled water pay dividends yesterday.
Premier Darrell Dexter announced at the CUPE Nova Scotia annual convention that he has directed the environment department to draft new rules banning individual-sized bottles of water from being available in government buildings.
“Where there is potable water in (government buildings) departments will no longer use or provide bottled water,” Dexter later explained to reporters.
CUPE had been one member of a coalition that has been lobbying governments to take a stand against bottled water.
“This (is) exactly what we’ve been asking the province to do,” said Jocelyne Rankin of the Ecology Action Centre.
Nova Scotia is believed to be the first province to take such a step, though it’s not the first within the province. The municipality of Barrington was the first to ban bottled water from its buildings.
“To get the province to get on board with this is really phenomenal and does quite a bit to push the issue forward,” said Rankin.
“Bottled water has a much larger environmental footprint than tap water. There’s a lot more energy that goes into producing of plastic bottles, distribution, refrigeration and then disposal.”
Rankin said Nova Scotia’s tap water is rigorously tested and 1,000 times cheaper than the bottled variety. CUPE president Danny Cavanagh said the move sends the message the government is committed to promoting “safe, clean municipal drinking water.”
Dexter said so far the ban is not planned to extend to government agencies such as schools. However he didn’t rule out expansion after the ban is set up in government offices.
Earlier this month environmentalists banded together for Bottled Water Free Day. Volunteers in Grand Parade Square in downtown Halifax handed out reusable water bottles in exchange for signatures on an “I Love Tap Water” poster.