Tapped the Movie

Documentary on bottled water taps into controversy at Tuesday event
By Jessica Molz Corresponent | Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 6:15 pm
WESTAMPTON — So, tap water or bottled? Not sure? Some people who attended a screening of an award-winning documentary and took a taste test probably are now. On Tuesday night at the Burlington County Library, the Tri-County Sustainability Alliance, a local environmental group, partnered with the national nonprofit Food and Water Watch to show director Stephanie Soechtig’s “Tapped.” The film sparked a discussion on how the big business of bottled water is impacting the environment and the residents of Burlington County.
” ‘Tapped’ is a film we use to educate the public about water privatization and the corporate buy-up of our natural resources,” said Lina Smith, South Jersey regional organizer for Food and Water Watch. “One of our positions is to stand up to corporations that put profit before people by ensuring water remains publicly controlled.”
The evening began with a taste test. Each guest was presented with two plastic cups prior to the film, one filled with bottled water, the other with Burlington County tap water. The guests sampled each and selected their favorite, with the results to be revealed at the end of the night. The event’s organizers were betting on tap water to win — and the documentary soon showed why: It is often safer to drink tap water than bottled water.
According to “Tapped,” there is just one person at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating all the country’s bottled water. And if the water is bottled in-state and sold in-state — as 70 percent of bottled water is — the FDA has no jurisdiction at all. Carcinogens have been found in the plastic bottles, which can leak into the water.
Tap water, meanwhile, is tested by local municipalities many times a day.
“It’s a matter of educating as many people as you can,” attendee Valerie Donor said. “Because a lot of people think bottled water is better for them, when in reality it’s not.” After the screening, the floor was opened to discussion, specifically how the problem affects Burlington County.
“Municipalities in New Jersey are selling their rights to water to private companies,” Smith said. “When municipalities face the decision, it’s usually because they lack the resources to invest in their water infrastructure, which is often in need of repairs. They see it as advantageous, because companies offer to maintain the systems. But in the long run, it’s bad for (them) and for the quality of water.”
Companies often will continue to take water even during droughts, selling citizens’ water back to them for enormous profits.
“It’s not really a fair or regulated thing,” said Ed Cohen, chairman of Tuesday’s event.
So how can people help? The answer is simple, Cohen said: reusable bottles — preferably metal. They’re safer, greener and less expensive.
“When used as an alternative to plastic water bottles, a reusable bottle will pay for itself within six uses,” he said.
As the discussion wound down, the results of the taste test were announced: Tap was tops.
For more information about “Tapped,” visit tappedthemovie.com

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