On Monday, April 26, the city of Madison is sponsoring a free screening of the documentary Tapped, a broadside attack on "the scourge of bottled water" and the industry that sustains it. Wisconsin Film Festival, eat your heart out.
According to an announcement sent out by the Madison Water Utility, Tapped "shows the truth about bottled water, taking a close look at America's addiction to something that, it turns out, is less healthy than tap water and rather downright dangerous to drink."
Water Utility spokeswoman Gail Gawenda says that this claim about danger "is taken from the producers of the film; it is their wording," and that viewers can draw their own conclusions.
City recycling conquistador George Dreckmann explains that municipal water suppliers are subject to much more stringent standards than bottled water producers: "I think a lot of people would be surprised to find how little oversight is involved in bottled water."
Indeed, he notes, some bottled water makers are actually bottling tap water from municipal systems, which they run through a filter - achieving the same result as any homeowner with an inexpensive home filter.
Moreover, says Dreckmann, bottled water is "bad for the environment." Only about 25% of bottled water bottles are recycled - much less than for other containers because people often drink it on the go - and some 22 billion bottles a year get tossed. Add in the petrol it takes to make all those bottles and truck the water to bottling plants and then stores and you might as well sell the stuff under the label Death to the Planet.
And even that might not be the worst of it. Dreckmann cites the "social justice issue," highlighted in the film, of how bottled water companies are privatizing what should be a public resource, in some cases hauling away water from populations that need it desperately.
All in all, says Dreckmann, drinking bottled water presents "a real ethical concern."
The screening will be at Monona Terrace, 7 p.m.