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Friday, July 10, 2009

Bundanoon to drink "Hypocrisy in a Bottle"

This Bundanoon story has opened up a whole can of worms.
I wrote in my Blog report of the meeting:
  • However, I am unclear why the organisers specifically restricted the motion to "still water (only)". The logic behind that distinction eludes me. It smacks of a private deal having been arranged on the side, to not campaign against carbonated mineral waters. If so, it is doubly ironic in view of the supposed concern about the "carbon footprint" of bottled water. Surely "carbonated waters" are doubly undesirable?
Those words were unfortunately prophetic. It has subsequently been confirmed that the Bottled Water industry has arranged to sell huge quantities of sparking mineral water in glass bottles to the shops and hotel in Bundanoon. It should be named "Hypocrisy in a Bottle".

How does this outcome help the Environment?

  • Water will still be extracted from the Aquifers of Australia - possibly including Bundanoon's own.
  • Glass bottles are even heavier to transport - thus requiring more fossil fuel to transport it around.
  • The only benefit is that glass bottles do not float in oceans. That is at best a marginal improvement not an "Environmental Coup".

I have sent the following to The Editor, Daily Telegraph.

  • With reference to the Daily Telegraph story: NSW town of Bundanoon votes to ban bottled water (9 July 2009), Unfortunately, the people of Bundanoon were kept in the dark about the real agenda of the public meeting.
  • The whole event was a publicity stunt - NOT an environmental coup as we were told it would be.
  • I have thought long and hard about what I have written here.
  • As a resident of the Southern Highlands, I anticipate not ever being welcome in Bundanoon again. It is simply that I hate to see an entire village being "taken for a ride" by slick publicists and campaigners. And that is what I fear has happened. They may have "put Bundanoon on the world map" - but for zero environmental benefit.
  • The reasons for Bundanoon's opposition to Bottled Water have little or nothing to do with carbon footprints and everything to do with opposing a local water bottling plant in the heart of the Village. But that point has been overlooked - that leaving open the question: "Quite why water is being singled out is unclear". (Daily Telegraph Editorial 9 July 2009 - "Tapping a rich vein of lunacy".). Bundanoon has been made to be a laughing stock, in the national press - a subject of public ridicule.
  • Bundanoon's citizens deserve better - from the organisers of this meeting.
  • Unfortunately, Wednesday's meeting was prevented from discussing an approval by the local Council (on that same afternoon) of a water bottling facility in the village.
  • So, Bundanoon may well end up being the first village to declare a moratorium on sale of bottled water, while having a bottled water facility approved to be developed right in the heart of the Village. Yet a full hall of people was prevented from discussing whether or not they agree with Council's approval of the latest Norlex proposal.
  • Rather than lose control of the public meeting, (and their own perceived opportunity to be "famous"), the organisers denied the assembled concerned residents of Bundanoon an opportunity to consider the decision made earlier in the day by Council to approve the latest DA by the Norlex company for a water bottling facility.
Patrick - of the Bundy on Tap Committee
  • The real issue is the Norlex proposal to build a bottled water processing facility in Bundanoon. The facts of the case were raised on no less than 4 separate occasions by members of the public. Each speaker was abruptly told their comments were "out of order" - to the disbelief of most of the assembled citizens of Bundanoon.
  • Consequently, the Daily Telegraph's Editorial was able to easily ridicule the Bundanoon community's concern about carbon footprint of bottled water. The meeting was not about that at all.
  • The "Bundy on Tap" committee had a great slogan, but they have been too smart by half in trying to "spin the bottle" story to suit their own purposes.
  • The 356 people who attended the meeting tonight were there because of the 3 year campaign to "Don't bore Bundanoon", not because of the carbon footprint issue.
  • The people of Bundanoon deserve better - from the organisers of Wednesday's meeting. Unfortunately, it was because of the poor judgement of the meeting organisers, attempting to deny what everybody in Bundanoon knows - that the real issue of concern is "Don't Bore Bundanoon".
  • As a result, Bundanoon may well end up being the only town in Australia where sale of bottled water has been rejected by the public, while the Council is facilitating construction of a Water bottling plant in the heart of the village. If so, then the people of Bundanoon must surely regret the lost opportunity of tonight's meeting.
  • Peter Falk's call to "march on Council", while perhaps a touch rhetorical, was probably the most sensible comment of the evening.
As I write, the banning of Bottled Water is being ridiculed on Richard Glover's ABC Afternoon program. Bundanoon has even been compared to Springfield (on "The Simpsons"). (ABC Radio 702 at 5:55pm Friday).


Greg Chapman said...

OK, I blame the media for this "Anti-Bottled Water-gate". I would'nt like to criticize everyone at Bundanoon.

It still upsets me that small environmental groups like "Planet Ark" and "Do Something", spruik the "anti-bottled water" message to the media like, what Jon Dee did.

I was so upset that the publicity created from this, wanting the whole entire world to know. Sadly for us, the media then go on talking against bottled water.

It seems some people hardly think that our bottles are just landfill-bound, when actually our bottles are recyclable.

It is up to people who drink bottled water, to "recycle" them after use, not litter them !! :)

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Greg
I agree that recycling of bottles would go a long way to solving the problems of pollution.

Snail said...

I wondered what the deal was with this. Much more complicated than the quick grabs on the news suggest.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Denis Wilson said...

I have received the following note (privately) from Martin, a fellow blogger).

Thanks for the very interesting posts. Those of us outside the area have just seen the outcome of the meeting and not the background.

I have been fascinated by the drinking of bottled water ever since I worked with Statistics Canada in 1991 and found that a vast majority of people in Quebec drank bottled water. Apparently this was a cultural issue dating back to pre-reticulation days when everyone took their water from a favourite well. Why it continues when there is perfectly adequate reticulated water available (almost) free bewildered me then.

It still does bewilder me, even though I drink the gassy version (but as an alternative to beer, not tap water). I eventually recycle the bottles after several uses as containers for my home brewed ale (and stout, lager, and pilsener). I feel sorry for your correspondent with a small business but any form of rational behaviour would suggest that bottled water of any variety in Australia is like a bicycle for fish. (In some places I have lived/visited - notably Africa and less well developed parts of Asia - there is a very rational need for the bottled water.)

The elements of the story about Norlex are a worry, especially as the local Council appears to be unworried about the views of residents. If you are looking for ways of getting some publicity about the issue, a good journalistic source is Roslyn Beeby the environment writer of the Canberra Times (a bit out of her area, but if the story is interesting she might follow it). There might also be some interest by the Commonwealth Government, who are very interested in water issues such as abuse of aquifers. The Parliamentary Secretary for Water - Dr Mike Kelly - is a very good bloke and the Member for Eden Monaro which is not that far from Bundanoon.

I decided to send this to you as an email rather than a blog comment since it gave you a better choice whether the comments were worth while.


DJW Notes:
Happy to publish your comment, Martin. Thanks