On July 30 in former President Ford's hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., a community picnic and celebration honoring his 90th birthday will be held in a park in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum. The event will be Ford's first chance to tour a recently opened addition to the museum, including a life-sized replica of the Cabinet Room of the White House.
Grand Rapids city officials plan to give away 3,000 half-liter bottles of Grand Rapids Water System water at the celebration. The party also will feature free food and beverages from local food processors and bottling companies.
Don Spencer, the water system manager, said the city is joining the giveaway to show that its water is on par with bottled water available on store shelves.
"It's been mentioned over the years; we have such high-quality water, we ought to bottle it," Spencer told Jim Harger of The Grand Rapids Press. "It came up recently again with the celebration plans for President Ford's birthday."
Chris Gray, an artist in the city's Planning Department, designed the label to promote the city's Lake Michigan Filtration Plant and mentions the seven suburban to which it is distributed.
Northern Falls Water Co., a Kentwood-based unit of Dean Foods Inc., was hired to put the city water into the half-liter bottles after passing it through reverse osmosis filters to remove trace minerals.
It's the same water and the same process Northern Falls uses to bottle other labels they produce for retailers, Spencer said. The city paid Northern Falls 30 cents a bottle for the packaging job a total of $900.
Spencer said the Grand Rapids label may re-appear if the city is called on to hand out emergency water supplies. The city gave out bottled water to consumers on the city's Northwest Side and Walker earlier this year after a pumping station failed, prompting a two-day "boil water" alert.
Last year, the city of Wyoming called on Northern Falls to fill about 23,000 bottles of its water for promotional events. Those bottles were filled after Wyoming's water was trucked to Northern Falls' bottling facility at 4460 44th St. SE.
Although consumers are willing to pay more for bottled water than they do for gasoline, Spencer said he doesn't want to sell water by the bottle. He notes the bottles do not have the nutritional labels required for sale in stores.