Wednesday, June 14, 2006

South African Parlament Bans Bottled Water

Members of Parliament have been told to lay off the bottle and stick to tap water.

"There is no need to use bottled water in Parliament; you can use tap water ... there is nothing wrong with it," Water Research Commission (WRC) CEO Dr Rivka Kfir told members of the National Assembly's science and technology committee on Tuesday.

Responding to a question on whether the increasing use of bottled water in South Africa was merely a "fashion", she said tap water in the country's major urban areas was of a very high quality.

Kfir was briefing the committee on the role of the WRC, which she described as a national "hub" for the distribution of knowledge and information on water and related research.

Earlier, members were seen fetching bottles of water from a box near the door to the committee room.

Kfir told them former water affairs ministers Ronnie Kasrils and Buyelwa Sonjica had "always been very cross when people served them bottled water".

She suggested the MPs "invested in a few jugs", and used tap water.

"It is different if you want soda or carbonated water, but otherwise there is no need, in any major urban area in South Africa, to ... use bottled water."

South Africa's tap water was of a higher quality than bottled water because it was tested daily, she said.

Committee chairperson Eugene Ngcobo called for an end to bottled water at Parliament.

"It is very important for us as science and technology [MPs] to lead Parliament, that in fact this [bottled water] is a waste of ... money, time and health, and is not as clean as the ordinary tap water.

"We will lead the campaign!" he vowed.