Tribune: Education most important in debate of water

Monday, June 12, 2017

The East Valley Tribune reported that Niagara Bottling recently announced it will develop a 450,000-square-foot plant in Mesa’s Elliot Road Technology Corridor, the same high-tech corridor that houses an Apple global command center and future site of a DuPont Fabros data center.

This is the second water bottling company to announce it will open a plant in the Valley. Nestle committed to opening a plant in Phoenix last year.

City Economic Development Director Bill Jabjiniak said that Niagara Bottling will purchase its water from Mesa and use roughly 550,000 gallons per day.

These announcements have raised concerns among some residents and activists, who question the logic of selling municipal water back to residents in a state in the midst of a drought now in its third decade.

“It’s a good question, and it is good that people are thinking about it,” said Sarah Porter, director at the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Porter pointed out that the extreme reaction to water bottling facilities in Arizona may be unfair as the question is not so much about water bottling plants specifically as it is about the region’s economy as a whole.

“I think the problem for people, and I understand it, is that we are asked as water users to be careful and use less, so it feels contradictory to have that message on the one hand and then have the plant,” Porter said.

Porter believes residents need to educate themselves about the nuances of water resource management in order to make informed decisions about the future of their communities and economies.

READ: Bottling plant’s impending arrival revives debate over water use