A National (Park) Controversy

July 18, 2013

Much of the country is in the midst of hotter-than-usual summer temperatures this week, which means we should all be guzzling plenty of water to stay hydrated – especially if we’re attempting any outdoor activities.

But as vacationers flock to U.S. national parks this summer, they may find a change when it comes to water – in some parks, bottled water is no longer available for sale. Grand Canyon National Park no longer sells it, nor does Saguaro National Park (also in Arizona). Two national parks in Utah – Arches and Canyonland – have begun removing vending machines that sell bottled water too.

Other parks are likely to follow suit – movements are underway to stop the sale of bottled water in all parks administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

These actions have been made to encourage park visitors to “reduce, reuse, refill” by using refillable bottles. The parks have installed bottle filling stations, and sell reusable bottles for a few dollars apiece. According to park spokesman Paul Henderson, this suits most visitors to the Utah parks – they “aren’t relying on a little plastic bottle,” he said in USA Today article earlier this spring.

The International Bottled Water Assn. has come out in opposition to the bottled water ban, saying that it contradicts NPS’s “Healthy ParksHealthy People” campaign by eliminating a healthy beverage option, and pointing out bottled water containers make up a minute portion of plastic waste in the U.S.

My opinion – the parks should provide as many hydration options as possible, and that includes pre-packaged bottled water and filling stations for reusable bottles.

Do you think bottled water can peacefully coexist with these other water options? Let us know your opinion in the comments below, or e-mail us at [email protected].

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