Federal and State Laws Regarding Bottled Water - An Overview and Recommendations for Reform
Noah D. Hall
Wayne State University Law School
December 12, 2007
Water bottling is big business and getting bigger, growing by about ten percent annually over the past five years. The most important environmental concerns from a legal and regulatory perspective relate to the impact of water extraction to fill the billions of bottles Americans purchase every year. While water bottling has almost no impact on the total national freshwater supply, the majority of bottled water comes from groundwater which has a direct hydrologic connection to springs and other vulnerable surface waters. Thus, even relatively small water withdrawals for bottled water can produce significant impacts at the local scale on other water users and the environment.
Bottled water is regulated by the federal government as a food product by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA regulations provide for source identity labeling of bottled water. Consumer preferences seem to favor bottled water labeled as spring water over bottled water from other sources, including municipal supply. This has inadvertently led to increased pressures on vulnerable spring resources. The FDA should immediately begin a process to review and revise its source identity rule to consider the impact of bottled water withdrawals on springs and other vulnerable water resources.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: water law, bottled water, spring waterworking papers series
Date posted: December 16, 2007
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