bottled water

#DrinkTapPHL: 15,000 Reasons to Ditch Disposable Bottles

Philadelphia Water and Head of the Schuylkill Regatta teamed up to give away 12,000 reusable bottles Oct. 24-25. It's part of a new effort to encourage people to save money with tap water and fight litter with refillable bottles. Credit: Philadelphia Water/Brian Rademaekers
Philadelphia Water and Head of the Schuylkill Regatta teamed up to give away 15,000 reusable bottles Oct. 24-25. It's part of a new effort to encourage people to save money with tap water and fight litter with refillable bottles. Credit: Philadelphia Water/Brian Rademaekers

There were lots of big names and important figures on the banks of the Schuylkill on Oct. 23 to announce a new network of water bottle filling stations along the Schuylkill River Trail, "America's Best Urban Trail" and Philadelphia's most popular recreational path.

But perhaps the most important (and certainly the cutest) people there were the 4th grade students from FS Edmonds Elementary School. Fresh from a field trip to the Fairmount Water Works, the kids enthusiastically took the #DrinkTapPHL/Schuylkill Navy River Stewards pledge to “Choose to Reuse” and were given some of the 15,000 free refillable bottles ordered for the new drinking water/anti-litter campaign. (For photos from Friday's kickoff, click here.)

New Filling Stations, 12,000 Free Reusable Bottles to Fight Plastic Bottle Litter

This graph shows that 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was platic bottles. SourceL Lance Butler, Philadelphia Water.
Clogging our Rivers: This graph shows that over 55 percent of litter collected from the Schuylkill River during recent skimmer boat trips was plastic, and 77 percent of that was plastic bottles. Click the graph for a larger image. Source: Environmental Restoration & Maintenance,
Office of Watersheds, Philadelphia Water.

Philadelphia Water and a coalition of people and groups who care about our rivers, parks and planet are taking the fight against wasteful single-use water bottles to the Schuylkill River.

Mayor Michael Nutter will join partners in this campaign at Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Drive on Friday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. in announcing a new network of water bottle filling stations that will stretch along Kelly Drive from East Falls to Boathouse Row, providing convenient access to free drinking water on one of the region’s most popular recreational trails.

From the Archives: Bottled Water Advertisement, 1906

This bottled water advertisement was printed in the 1906 edition of Boyd's Co-Partnership and Residence Business Directory of Philadelphia City, a predecessor of the modern phone book.

Before Philadelphia’s filtered water treatment and distribution system was completed in 1909, City water had the potential to carry a variety of water-borne illnesses. Many diseases were caused by the bacteria-laden sewage that was being dumped, with no disinfection or treatment, into the same rivers (the Delaware and Schuylkill) from which the drinking water supply was drawn. The most common of these illnesses, typhoid fever, was especially virulent in 1906, killing more than 1,000 people and sickening perhaps ten times as many.

This spring water company is clearly using this tragic situation to drum up business. Its illustrations, however, are misleading. On the right, any “sewage” in the city water would not be visible, although still deadly. And just because water comes from a spring, and looks clear, as shown on the left, does not mean it is not also contaminated.

Before water filtration, it was not uncommon for the Philadelphia Water Department to recommend (via newspaper articles and other publicity) that any water for cooking or drinking be boiled to kill any disease causing bacteria. Today, the filtered water supply is tested continuously, while bottled waters are not, which is why Philly Water straight from the tap just might be the safest option. At about a penny per gallon, it is certainly the cheapest!

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