City of Columbia bans bottled water

Columbia, SC (WIS) - A few weeks ago, Columbia's city manager, Steve Gantt, sent out a reminder to city employees about a policy prohibiting bottled water in city buildings.

The wife is a city of Columbia police officer, called media agencies in Columbia concerned about the policy. She said he was afraid officers may become dehydrated if they cannot carry water bottles.

The city manager was asked to clarify the policy.  According to Gantt, "We put a moratorium on bottled water that you buy."

Gantt said the city sells water, so he's encouraging employees to drink up, but just do in their own containers.

"Plastic bottles that you buy water in are made out of petroleum products. They take up space in our landfills, we're trying to be a green city," Gantt said.

Several city of Columbia employees had containers on their desks, including Gantt himself.

Even city council members use plastic cups to drink from during meetings.

The push to drink city water started three years ago after two professional wine testers on the NBC Today Show ranked Columbia's water the third best in the nation.

So, city leaders thought it best to promote the water.

"When possible, we're asking folks to think conservatively, be environmentally sensitive, try to do things they can to keep things out of the landfill, keep from using petroleum products," Gantt says.

Gantt admits there are exceptions to this rule.

For employees who work outside; like water and sewer maintenance workers, fire fighters and police officers, bottled water is allowed.

"This is certainly not a discharge situation. It would just be an encouragement," according to Gantt.

Gantt said Mayor-elect Steve Benjamin recently inquired about the policy, so he thought it best to remind all employees about it.

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