A National (Park) Controversy

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].

Kate Cline is editor-in-chief of WQP. Cline can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1007.

Bottled water station removal from National Parks

The bottled water industry makes very good profit selling it supposedly "pure" water. Much of that water is not quite as pristine as advertized and those bottles do contribute to the continuing problem of plastic waste. I am in favor of filling stations, however I would not oppose one bottled water station per park.

Re: Bottled water station removal from National Parks

I agree with you on both points! Many people do not realize that much bottled water come from a municipal source, a.k.a. tap water. Although labels state the source, bottled water drinkers don't always read the fine print. I like your idea of one "bottled water station" per park - it might encourage park visitors to bring their own bottles, but still provide the option of pre-packaged bottled water if needed.

bottled water

I think that it is a good idea to stop selling bottled water because most people throw away their plastic bottles after they drink the water rather than recycle the plastic bottle.

Re: bottled water

I can't speak to the situation national parks (it's been 15 years since I've visited one), but in many parks here in my area, there is always a recycle bin right next to every garbage bin. This makes it a no-brainer to recycle - no more effort is required than throwing the bottle in the garbage bin. A set-up like this could help encourage recycling, and would be beneficial regardless of bottled water sales, because bottled soda is still available in some national parks, and visitors can bring in their own bottled water if they so choose.

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