Don’t Tap Out Yet

It is one of the simplest organic compounds. It is used everywhere, all the time. It is in just about everything.

It is water and it is disappearing.

This point was hammered home by the documentary “Tapped,” which screened in SUNY New Paltz’s Lecture Center on the cloudy night of April 20. Directed and produced by Stephanie Soechtig, president of Atlas Films and producer of ABC’s “Planet Earth” and other works, this documentary opened up the issue of our nations decreasing water supply.

While water is a precious and diminishing commodity all over the world, this film focused mostly on the United States water supply and the negative impacts of big bottling corporations.

Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle have large bottling plants all over the country that suck the water out of the ground, bottle it and then sell it back to the people. Many of these plants, like the ones that fill Aquafina, Pepsi’s bottled water brand, take their water directly from the municipal “tap” water source, as indicated on the bottles themselves.

The companies come into rural towns and receive permits to draw out the town’s water, which would otherwise be used by the citizens, at no cost and then sell it at a profit.

The film presented startling statistics about bottled water. It costs 1900 times what tap water costs. By 2030, two-thirds of the world will not have access to clean drinking water. Additionally 35 states experienced a drought in 2007.

Although these bottling plants pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day out of the ground, contributing to the decrease in supply, there are other health risks associated with the bottled water industry, according to the screening.

The plastic of the bottles itself, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chemicals that are taken from refining crude oil and have been linked to cancer and birth defects.

In the film, an oil refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas was found to be emitting this toxic agent into the area. Cases of cancer and birth defect rates rose in the local community after this plant opened. The study cited by the film found that the number of people born with a defect in Corpus Christi was 84 percent higher than the state average.

Corporations continue to argue that their products are safe and pure which, the film mentioned, implies that tap water is somehow unsafe or impure. Municipal tap water is tested at filtration plants multiple times a day and is heavily regulated by the FDA, unlike bottled water which has few to no regulations.

When the film finished, two members of the Kingston Citizens, founder Rebecca Martin and Rachel Marco-Havens, opened Q&A. Kingston Citizens is a community based group founded in 2007 that lead a campaign to successfully prevent the bottling company Niagara take up a stake in their town.

Martin stressed, “We are all affected,” as she urged students not to give in to these corporations and protect the water supply for themselves, their children and their children’s children.