Bottled Watershed

Pure, clean, water at Shepherd Research Center, being circulated by a floating streambed.

“A good way to ruin wisdom is to make it a bumper sticker.” — Poor Richard’s Modern Almanac

You can’t talk about water as if it’s something static. It has a tendency to move around, visibly or invisibly, usually in a downward motion as liquid, but also upward as vapor. What you do to water you do to everyone, eventually.

If the US sells dirty, high-sulphur coal to China, the mining of it impacts West Virginia streams on the front end. A short while later, the smoke that belches from the Guangzhou smokestacks brings it back to us in the form of sulphuric acid in the rain that falls in our own backyard.

When I say this, people ask, “Why are you against business?”

You can see how quickly any discussion of water and other resources can quickly become a political debate.

How our water connects us became rather grossly evident when scientists started finding pharmaceutical compounds in waterways, flushed out in the pee of you and me.

Think about it, water in some form comes into every house, enters every mouth, bloodstream, bladder and then it goes out. Then back in and out again, and so on. How our water connects us in this way became rather grossly evident when scientists started finding pharmaceutical compounds in waterways, flushed out in the pee of you and me. “Antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones” are in our waterways, as revealed by CBS News.

You’ve heard of Dasani water? It should be called Alatoona, as in Lake Alatoona, just north of Atlanta, where Coca Cola takes in a million gallons of that water. The water comes from the Etowah watershed, covering a big chunk of north Georgia. Coke pays about .002 cents (that’s two thousandths of a cent) per gallon of that water. They then processes it for sale at a typical retail price of around $4.68 per gallon.

You can start to see the economic tapestry unfold when you consider that the Atlanta metro area is way overdeveloped for the amount of fresh water available. Atlanta residents experienced this first-hand with the drought of 2008. There is ongoing talk of solutions to prevent another drought. An antique boundary maps suggest Atlanta may have a vague legal right to tap into the Tennessee River. Now add in the high profitability and economic dependency on a product that is virtually free. A very strange situation has formed. Doesn’t it make you wonder where it will lead next, as water resources become increasingly strained?

What you’re paying for is access to clean water and portability, so you don’t have to include an 8-pound jug of filtered tap water in your briefcase. As you travel about, our product supply chain is in place to make sure that there is always a bottle handy. Delivery and keeping it cold in a glass-fronted refrigerator is what you pay for, that and advertising. Yes, a big part of that bottled water price is advertising. So when you see the billboard ad for something you can get for free, that’s not Coke paying for it, it’s you. Smart, eh?

If you want to learn more on that, check out this excellent article from Creative Loafing. If you’ve got observations regarding this subject, I’d love to hear it.

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