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NY nixes bottled water for state agencies

Earlier this afternoon, New York's Gov. David A. Patterson signed an executive order to phase out the purchase of bottled water for state agencies. The agencies have 180 days to develop and implement  plans to phase out expenditures for bottled water — both single-use bottles and the larger office jugs — and provide alternative water sources such as ordinary tap water fountains and dispensers.

The goal is to eliminate bottled water expenditures by May 1, 2010. New York is the second state — after Illinois — to stop purchasing bottled water.

"Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to ensure that we have clean drinking water supplies," the governor said in a prepared statement. "If we are going to make such significant investments, we should reap the benefits and use that water. Our efforts will serve as an example for local governments, businesses and residents to follow."

According to a state press release, "over 450 million gallons of oil are used to transport water from bottling plants to stores. In the United States, plastic water bottle manufacturing uses 17 million barrels of oil, producing over 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Eighty percent of these bottles, which are equal to four billion pounds, end up in garbage incinerators or landfills."

The move drew praise from the Think Outside the Bottle campaign, an initiative led by Corporate Accountability International.

"This action sends an important message that in these difficult economic times, state government can both cut waste and invest in shared public resources, like water, upon which local economies rely," the group said in a press release. "Governor Paterson's executive order is good for our pocketbooks, good for our environment, and good for our public water systems."

Recently, Paterson also signed a bottle bill that included a five-cent deposit on bottled water sales, which is returned when the bottle is turned in for recycling.

New York City Council also is ending purchases of bottled water for city offices and city-sponsored events. Mayor Bloomberg cosponsored a resolution passed at last year's U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting that encouraged cities to phase out taxpayer spending on bottled water, an action taken by at least 60 cities, according to the Think Outside the Bottle campaign.