Alliance for Democracy

UN says water is human right/Mult Co stops use of bottled water‏

Posted in Ban the Bottle, Multnomah County by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on August 10, 2010

On July 28, the United Nations General Assembly recognized that the human right to water and sanitation exists in a vote on a resolution bought by the Bolivian delegation.  The vote was 124 in favor, no states opposed but 42 abstaining.  The United States abstained. This from the United Nations’ press statement:  “Introducing the text, Bolivia’s representative said the human right to water had not been fully recognized, despite references to it in various international instruments.  Lack of access to water killed more children annually than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, while the lack of sanitation affected 2.6 billion people, or 40 per cent of the global population, he pointed out.  The upcoming summit to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals must provide a clear signal that water and sanitation were human rights, he emphasized, reiterating that the right to drinking water and sanitation was essential for the full enjoyment of life.”

Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water to the president of the General Assembly and national chair of the Council of Canadians, was interviewed on Democracy Now on this historic event.

Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen put out a notice asking Multnomah County employees to use tap water and reuseable/refillable bottle instead of bottled water.  Furthermore, he announced that in October the county council will consider a resolution to ban the purchase of bottled water with county funds. Read all the details below.

David e. Delk, Alliance for Democracy – Portland Chapter, 503.232.5495

July 28th, 2010
UN General Assembly Votes to Recognize the Human Right to Water and Sanitation
Joint Statement of Maude Barlow, Board Chair, and Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Washington, D.C.–“It is an amazing and surprising victory for water justice today with the UN General Assembly passing the resolution recognizing the human right to water and sanitation.

“124 states voted for the resolution. 42 states—including the U.S.—abstained from the resolution. No state voted against it.

“Our network of allies has been fighting for over 10 years towards achieving a legally binding recognition of the human right to water at the UN. While this is a non-binding resolution, it is a crucial first step to providing clean water and sanitation to all.”

For more information, visit


UN declares water, sanitation as human rights – The Council of Canadians 7/28/10


Maude Barlow: Running out of Water – GRITtv with Laura Flanders 7/28/10


Today, Chair Cogen and I are proud to announce that Multnomah County will affirm our commitment to environmental responsibility, public health, sound business practices and saving tax dollars by changing our policies related to bottled water.  We are asking the employees of Multnomah County to join us in this effort and “Take Back the Tap.”

Please join with us to eliminate bottled water in our workplace.

The evidence to support this shift is urgent and compelling:

  • People who live in Multnomah County enjoy some of the cleanest and best drinking water in the nation from the Bull Run watershed and other sources.
  • Facilities and Property Management staff ensures that every Multnomah County building has safe, drinkable tap water by routinely testing and rapidly responding to complaints and concerns.
  • The vast majority (86%) of empty plastic water bottles end up in landfills* in the U.S. instead of being recycled.  That’s two million tons of plastic!
  • Manufacturing America’s water bottles consumes 17.6 million barrels of oil each year*.
  • The production and transport of bottled water consumes a great deal of energy, pollutes the environment, and contributes to global climate change.
  • Bottled water is a far more expensive than tap water.

We’re asking you to use a refillable water bottle in place of individual bottles of water or water coolers in your workplace.  These refillable bottles come in an array of sizes and styles and cost anywhere between $5 and $25.  They’ll pay for themselves very quickly.

The water in our buildings is safe to drink.  Numerous studies have proven that tap water is just as clean, safe and healthy as bottled water.  Tap water also doesn’t contain hazardous chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) or Phthalates that can leach from plastic bottles into water.  Bottled water is subject to far less regulation than municipal water sources like Bull Run.

Getting enough water every day is important for your health and we are committed to ensuring access to safe, free tap water for employees to drink.  The water in our buildings is safe to drink.  We know this because Facilities and Property Management has monitored and ensured water quality in our buildings for years.  In coming days, they will post additional signage to indicate where filtered water is available in our buildings, for those who might prefer that to unfiltered tap water (again, both are safe to drink.)

In October, we will ask our colleagues on the Board of County Commissioners to enact a new policy to disallow the use of county funds for bottled water, except in cases of emergency or when no other viable alternative exists.  Our Facilities and Property Management staff will post signage where filtered water is available in our workplaces and will respond quickly to issues or questions.

Click here to learn more about bottled water and to take a pledge to say you’re on board.  Watch your email for future updates and information.  We’re working with Food and Water Watch to bring you a range of interesting information and activities along the way.  Watch for information about taste tests and screenings of the movie Blue Gold.

We look forward to working with Multnomah County employees on this exciting new effort.

Jeff Cogen, Chair
Barbara Willer, District 2 Commissioner

* Source: Food and Water Watch

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