77th Annual Meeting

ENSURING FAIR AND EQUITABLE USE OF AND COMPENSATION FOR MUNICIPAL WATER SYSTEMS

WHEREAS, increasing public investment in our nation's water infrastructure system is critical to meet existing and future demands, ensure water supply reliability, and comply with more stringent drinking water quality standards; and

WHEREAS, an August 2008 report by The U.S. Conference of Mayors found that for every one dollar invested in public water and sewer infrastructure services, approximately $8.97 are added to the national economy; and

WHEREAS, the Government Accountability Office, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the American Society of Civil Engineers estimate that the Nation faces up to a $1 trillion dollar funding gap in drinking and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years; and

WHEREAS, local governments already invest approximately $82 billion a year or more, over 90% of the total funding available for drinking water and sewer services; and

WHEREAS, sustained negative economic conditions in the United States are significantly impacting the ability of local and city governments to maintain funding for the essential public services they provide; and

WHEREAS, up to 40% of bottled water on the market comes from already treated municipal water systems, and the bottled water industry generated $15 billion in sales in 2006 from U.S. consumers; and

WHEREAS, a 2008 USCM study found that purchasing some of the cheapest bottled water from city retailers can cost local consumers from 1,000 to over 4,000 times per unit volume than the equivalent amount of municipal tap water; and

WHEREAS, cities incur costs as a result of allowing water bottling operations to use municipal water systems that are difficult to quantify; including but not limited to waste management costs, the economic impact of exporting water out of local watersheds, the loss of confidence in public water systems, and the impact of water bottling in communities experiencing drought conditions;

WHEREAS, bottled water is a non-essential use of an essential and shared public resource;

WHEREAS, a 2007 national city water survey conducted by USCM staff noted that, 'the growing interest in local government to integrate asset management approaches to public infrastructure is consistent with the desire to maximize the prudent application of taxes and revenues raised from rate-payers for these services'; and

WHEREAS, some cities in the United States have adopted progressive pricing structures for water that prioritize equitable and affordable access for people - particularly low-income residents and other vulnerable populations - while incentivizing water conservation and cross-subsidization by large commercial users;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors will study current pricing structures for sales of municipal water for water bottling to evaluate how cities can be appropriately compensated for that use, and how best to allocate revenues from these sales to support municipal water systems.