Bottled water companies would have to provide content information to consumers upon their request, under legislation introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers.
The North Carolina Republican's bill would direct the FDA to circulate regulations that require bottled water manufacturers and distributors to annually prepare, and make available upon request, a bottled water quality report for each of their bottled water products. Some of the information the report would cover includes the type of water source (e.g., spring, artesian well, public water system, etc.), a brief description of the primary processing and treatment methods used by the bottler, and test results for the microbiological, physical, chemical and radiological quality of the product.Ellmers said the legislation would also provide a national, uniform bottled water labeling standard.
Ellmers, a former nurse, says the measure is necessary because, "Companies throughout the United States face increasing uncertainty due to a patchwork of laws that vary from state to state."
"This legislation will ensure that we have one, national, uniform standard for bottled water quality reports. It will also allow the public to obtain the information they need regarding the safety and quality of the bottled water they consume. This is an important step to providing these businesses with a less burdensome process, while also making consumers lives' easier."
The bottled water legislation is a savvy political move for Ellmers. It aims to satisfy the concerns of a major business in her Fayetteville, N.C.-area district, Pure Water.
It's also a populist piece of legislation that can attract positive media attention. Ellmers in November will face Democratic nominee Clay Aiken, the former "American Idol" runner-up. She's favored to win in the GOP-leaning district. But with Congress's approval ratings at an all-time low this sort of bread-and-butter issue can potentially reap political benefits for Ellmers, as she runs for a third term.
Ellmers is also touching on an industry that from time to time attracts negative attention, with skeptics asking why it even exists. "When it comes to bottled water, North Americans are conned to the tune of $15 billion and 8 billion gallons annually, paying twice for a commodity we already own," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in June 2010.
"If you want to pinch pennies in these hard economic times, why pay up to 36 times more for bottled water that may or may not be just as good as your own tap water?"