Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

September 21st 2009
Bottled water: Let's vote

Vote for or against bottled water on Magnetic The debate has been raging for a couple of weeks since Island resident John Becker wrote to Magnetic Times calling for the banning of bottled water on Magnetic Island. So we decided to put it to the vote.

John Becker (read here) was inspired by the small NSW town of Bundanoon which has achieved enormous publicity following its town-wide and near unanimous vote to get a voluntary ban by the Bundanoon shop keepers from selling bottled water after a company sought to take water for bottling from aquifers near Bundanoon.

While many point to the waste of oil and other resources that sees bottled water transported great, carbon-wasting, distances and sold at tremendous mark-ups to perfectly drinkable tap water, others argue that it impinges on individual's rights to purchase products, no matter how senseless, and that water, as a healthy product, should not be penalised while sugar-laden, bottled, soft drinks are ignored.

So, here is the question. Should Magnetic Islanders seek a ban on bottled water by Island shop keepers in return for the installation of public drinking fountains at all shopping and main recreational areas?

To vote just scroll down to our lower right side corner on our front page where you will see the poll.

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Bottled water: Let's vote
Keith Owens
September 19th 2009
I dont know how the Survey went but What is wrong with using a Bottle usually at home after buying a Soft Drink & fill that with Water from your Home supply & use that & then there would not be the thousands of Plastic Bottles laying around the Island Keith.
chris copping
September 19th 2009
We filter the tap water then gas it using a soda stream device(cylinders available on island)- you need to buy the bottles but its worth it- with a slice of fresh lime it competes with San Pellegrino and that is saying something. Recommended that you DO try this at home Chris
Barbara Gibbs
September 19th 2009
A public fountain in all major areas would be great if they weren't accompanied by the ubiquitous plastic cup...there would need to be a system where visitors can purchase a durable container to take their daily supply of water on hikes and to the beach etcetera. Definitely need to reduce the amount of waste in all forms, and plastic bottles end up on the ground and on the ocean constantly...A filtered fountain at all resorts, backpackers and shopping areas accompanied by inexpensive containers that are durable is a good idea.
It is not only the transportation of the bottles using CO2 laden fuels, but think of the actual production of the plastic...this process uses vast amounts of oil too.
John Gurr
September 20th 2009
Yes it should be banned World wide.

John G
September 20th 2009
People must have choice. If you withdraw bottled water, there would be an increase in sales of soft drinks etc. Here in the tropics we should encourage people to drink water, Visitors in any country are often wary of drinking local water. Even interstate visitors very often buy bottled water for a non-chlorine tasting water, and if they could not get it here, then they would bring it with them.
The only way it would work if all resorts, units, restaraunts and homes, as well as all public venues were forced to have filtered drinking water.
The only way it would work
Robert Anthony
September 20th 2009
We run a bus tours company that used to take people through the town of Bundanoon.
After they stopped selling bottled water, many of our regular customers complained, so now we don't even go through Bundanoon.
We used to have about 123 people on average a month going through the town, that's business they are missing out on now.
Just something to think about.
Helene Rankin
September 21st 2009
Think, like Robert Anthony, that people should have a choice. Let's face it, people "make" that choice every day AND BUY BOTTLED water!!!
When travelling overseas, people consider bottled water a "safe" option. Surely the issue isn't the bottled water, but, the proper disposal of used bottles.
People want to drink, and many consider a drinking fountain as unhygienic.
Promoting the correct recycling / disposal of the containers seems a more sensible way to go. When I was a kid ( the dark ages! admittedly) there was a refund when you returned used bottles. One of our favorite pastimes was to collect as many as we could. Incentives to recycle and plenty of bins encourages good eco friendly behaviour.
September 21st 2009
Somehow we should try to get Muzza and Robert Anthony (above) together - probably in Bundanoon. One says stopping bottled water sales will increase soft drink consumption, the other (or his bus tour clients) says a place is not worth visiting if you can't buy bottled water there. Bundanoon must be reeling from the revelation.
Whilst a microscopic percentage of the Australian population only drinks water out of a tap if it has a filter attached, let's face it, nearly everyone drinks it straight when they are at home. We aren't forced, we all have the choice and when we make a cuppa, boil the veggies or simply have a drink of water, we gulp it from the water supply straight, as it comes and thank our lucky stars for the luxury of safe, clean drinking water.
September 21st 2009
Daft as it may seem bottled water is a must, recycle the bottles afterward. maggies water maybe good but i bet some tums get upset when they first try it if your not native to aussie,
Robert van den berg
September 22nd 2009
I have been travelling quite alot over the last 10 years. Visisting beautifull Maggie aswell. I am from Holland and here i grewup with drinking from the tap. But I do know that for instance in France you cant drink water every were..just from the tap. So when I go abroad I really dont know wether the water is oke or not. So on magnetic i didnt. I know you have bore water, so what i am trying to say is..people perhaps (backpackers) dont even know wether the water is oke or not to perhaps put up signs or so....just a thought...but that is just a dumb remark.really dumb.
Jack McCain
September 22nd 2009
People, don't be fooled by John Becker's crusade. If you read his letters, He is not really concerned about the bottles, nor about the water in them, rather, to him, its all about the multi nationals making profits from the sale of water. I wonder if his superannuation plan went backwards, or his shares plummeted, but there will be a reason for his loathing of multi national companies.

September 22nd 2009
Interesting issue.. only being able to drink tap water...

I had our pool water analysed for cyanuric acid. According to Wikipedia, a pool should take years for it to build up a dangerous level of cyanuric acid. Dangerous level being over 100 ppm. Our pool, less than 2 years old had a level of just over 100 ppm.

Taking Wikipedia's word for it meant that there must be some other factor at work. I had a sample of Horsehoe Bay tap water analysed for cyanuric acid.

Analysis showed cyanuric acid level of 25 ppm in our Horseshoe Bay tap water. Which is more or less equivalent to 25 mg per litre.

WHO recommend that daily, no one takes more than 1.5mg per kilo of their weight which they say for an average person would mean drinking no more than 2 litres per day.

I'm around 57 kilos. Rounding that up to 60 kilos, my recommended daily maximum would be 90mg. If I were to drink 4 litres of Horseshoe Bay tap water, I would blow that (consuming 100 mg of cyanuric acid).

Another issue is that once melamine is included in your diet, combined with cyanuric acid, it becomes a deadly cocktail causing kidney and liver damage. Melamine and cyanuric acid were found in some dog foods (which were recalled after causing death and kidney damage to thousands of dogs) and, of course, the baby milk in China.

Very unlikely that the combination could occur after all the publicity, but individiually and then mixed in our stomachs? Well that could happen. I daresay it's even possible that melamine could leach out of the mug you're drinking water from or even from your water container in the fridge. I'm only guessing here.

I did read that a carbon or charcoal water filter would filter out cyanuric acid but only found one reference to it and currently the only recommended method of removing it from pool water is to drain the pool and start over. Some bright spark has come up with the idea of adding melamine to pool water with high cyanuric acid levels so that the two chemicals form crystals which can then be removed. Hmmmm.

I am particularly worried about kidney damage. So I asked myself what other communities in Australia would have a similar set up for water storage? My answer was remote Aboriginal communities. I did a Google search for Renal failure in remote aboriginal communities and the first result was a paper by Wendy Hoy highlighting the fact that 50% of the population in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern territories have renal failure.

Which raises yet another issue. How come that isn't front page news? Is Bill Bryson right? Are Aboriginals invisible to the majority?

Townsville water have collected a sample from my tap and will be analysing it today.
September 22nd 2009
I agree with Helene. Let's have a refund on the bottles.
Doesn't have to be run by the supermakets if they don't want to be bothered with small amounts of returns. The opposite of a drinks dispenser would be brilliant. But in liew of that, maybe sunferries could run a bottle return service for visitors and there could be a bottle return stall at the markets for locals. Easy. The supermarkets would gain for every bottle not properly disposed of, kids would gain for every bottle they picked up, the environment would gain because most bottles would be correctly displased of.
John Becker
September 22nd 2009
Mr McCain, I have nothing against multi-nationals provided they are altruistic, show a concern for their customers and employees and take action against exploitation of people, communities and the environment.
Regrettably, in the pursuit of profits, renegade multi-nationals have forced the more responsible ones to keep up with them by adopting some of their tactics (read exploitation).
The unrestricted free market has created financial crises of the millenia, e.g. Southsea Bubble, 1890s, 1930s, 2009 depression and recessions.
Free speech does not mean you can scream out “FIRE” in a crowded venue, and free market does need some restraints.
Responsible multi-nationals need to be on a referee/umpire controlled playing field; the people/elected govenment must be the referee/umpire.
This discussion, however, is not about multi-nationals although some are big players in the game; it is about bottled water and the carbon footprint produced in the making of plastic (non-commercially reusable) bottles, the bottling and transportation of water to an area, ie Magnetic Island, which is blessed with an excellent water supply.
September 22nd 2009
I have just received a phone call from citiwater. They say there is NO cyanuric acid in our tap water.
Bruce Williams
September 23rd 2009
I would vote against the sale of plastic water bottles if Queensland Transport reconnected water to the fountain at the Ferry Terminal. Thirsty (poor) people bemoan the State Government's decision to punish them because some (alleged) school kids vandalised the stylish FREE water fountain more than once. "No water for the Residents", the Manager of Everything at the Harbour told me. Red-faced. But ...Water is Water. It doesn't have to be a stylish extravaganza, just a (vandal-resistant) cheap TAP will do. Four dollars worth. Cheaply replaced if the Voters deem it important. If the State Government gives us a tap with (on-tap) water, then we'll all know that they support thirsty people over value-adding businesses who sell value-added plastic-sheathed water. Vote however you like, folks, just make a fuss about the dry WATER FOUNTAIN! Then the Council may replicate it in the other parts of the Island where thirsty peple look for a cold drink on a hot day. Then plastic won't be necessary.
September 23rd 2009
Audrey, do you accept that your fears about cyanuric acid in the water supply are groundless, or are you on the case to find another swimming pool water tester who can connect you to a better conspiracy theory that even Citiwater can't confound? That last one was a real doozy.
Jack McCain
September 24th 2009

John Becker, Why do you insist on sprouting false information. I have already told you that water bottles used by the major bottlers are made of P.E.T , which is recyclable. Go to your local store and look at the bottles for yourself.

John Becker
September 25th 2009
Mr McCain, Perrier and Pellegrini are sold in glass bottles. For other bottling, some are P.E.T., some are not, some are carbonate and some not, some reusable containers are metal, others not.
One cannot generalise to this extent. You need to identify each brand and the chemical construction of each brand’s container so that consumers can make a factual and/or logical decision.
The process of recycling P.E.T. has many techniques and end uses, some good, some bad. Control of the process belongs to the people (read government) for acceptable practice. Controls are essential, yet you have not specified which process of recycling P.E.T. is used in this country or even the chemistry of the containers in the bottled water transported to this island.
September 26th 2009
Its a wonder "big words Becker" and his sidekick, Chasmac, haven't tried to blame the water bottling companies for the dust storms.
September 26th 2009
Booffa's big on blame, as if. It seems that no matter what recyclable bottles are made from, only a small percentage end up in the recycling stream. The rest (or some of them anyway) go to the Picnic Bay landfill dump where they will stay for an eternity.
September 27th 2009
I would highly recommend viewing the documentary 'TAPPED' it certainly is an eye opener.
September 27th 2009
chasmac, There has been a suggestion made by two previous correspondents, calling for a deposit on drink containers, not only water, following the lead set by S.A. This has been ignored by "big words Becker" because it doesn't help in his attempt to stick it up the big companies he is so much against. Going by the poll it looks like the majority can see how unworkable his idea is, not to mention removing peoples right to drink whatever water they choose.
September 27th 2009
Watch for the movie, "Tapped". When you see it, you will very likely give up any thought of using water bottled in PET plastic bottles.

In addition to the considerable environmental and justice issues that surround bottled water, there is fact that bottled water is one of the greatest marketing con jobs ever perpetrated on western society, having persuaded people to fork out twice as much (or more) for water in a bottle than. they would have to pay for petrol, when they can get the same water (or better) out of their taps for virtually nothing.

Bottled water may be necessary in some places where the water is not safe, bumost bottled water is sold to people who have high quality tap water. The bottled water industry is, for the most part, environmentally destructive, morally unethical and potentially dangerous to health.
September 27th 2009
Robert Anthony sounds like a plant from the bottling industry. His letter is dated Sept. 20th, but Bundanoon did not actually stop selling bottled water until the official launch of Bundy-on-Tap on September 26th.

If he really does run a tourist bus and is no longer stopping in Bundanoon, he and his patrons are missing out on what has become a real tourist feature - the opportunity to buy a genuine "Bundy-on-Tap" refillable water bottle, a souvenir from the worlds' first bottled-water-free town. And of course, filtered water is freely available as well, so that his clients can have a drink without having to pay for it.
John Becker
September 29th 2009
For anyone interested in the documentary "Tapped" or the Bundanoon ban on bottled water, the following website may be of interest:
September 28th 2009
Boffa (different from Booffa?), there have been many calls over many years for state governments to follow SA's lead and introduce deposits for bottle returns. No one will do it. South Australians keep telling us how good and effective it is but no one else will take it up. Perhaps deposit systems kill business models?
Bruce Williams
October 2nd 2009
Hey, Everybody!!! What about the disconnected free drinking fountain at the Ferry Terminal?
January 27th 2010
entertaining debate (if it wasn't so serious).A filter jug for 2 litres of water can be bought for about $30. Creamic water dispensers with filters cost more, but are a wonderful investment. It's true we have good drinking water here, but the smell of chlorine when I turn on the tap worries me. I only have one kidney after losing one to cancer. I drink a lot of filtered water, and object strongly to the practice of large companies purchasing pristine water at very low prices here and overseas, then selling it back to us in questionable plastic containers which then become a massive pollution problem. If we in the market still demand this product, then a deposit on the return of the bottles should cover their recycling.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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