Pacific Institute Responds to International Bottled Water Association

The following is a statement by the Pacific Institute’s Communications Director, Nicholas L. Cain, in response to a press release by the International Bottled Water Association.

November 20, 2004, Oakland, CA: The Pacific Institute notes your press release regarding Dr. Peter Gleick’s November 17, 2004 presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. Although we welcome an open dialogue on bottled water and related issues, your press release is inaccurate and deceptive.

The International Bottled Water Association states that Dr. Gleick is working “to discredit the comprehensive system of federal and state regulations and standards for bottled water.” This is totally false and demands correction: Dr. Gleick is a strong supporter of comprehensive regulations for bottled water, as he clearly states in The World’s Water: 2004-2005.

The problem is that current international, federal, and state standards are neither comprehensive nor consistent. In “The Myth and Reality of Bottled Water” Dr. Gleick describes the many differing, often-contradictory regulations and standards for bottled water and calls for their improvement and strengthening. In fact, your own organization apparently does not consider current regulations to be comprehensive because you have developed your own “IBWA code” that you work to apply at both the state and international level.

The IBWA press release goes on to claim that Dr. Gleick has singled out “the bottled water industry” for special attention in groundwater policy, but this too is false. Dr. Gleick has written over 125 peer-reviewed papers, journal articles, books, and opinion essays and none have focused on bottled water. While it is the subject of one of seven chapters in the new biennial report “The World’s Water,” this is the fourth volume of the book. All together, these books have around 40 chapters on different water issues. To describe one chapter out of 40 as a “focus on bottled water” is plainly incorrect.

The one place your press release does fairly represent our work is when you note that we are working “to develop policies that preserve and protect groundwater resources.”
But your claim that we believe this requires “a subjectively narrow focus on the bottled water industry alone” is also false – our Water and Sustainability Project is working on eight different topics, none of which involve a focus on bottled water.

Your press release reaches its peak of deception when you claim that Dr. Gleick “sensationally ignores facts.” In fact, all of our work is built on science-based evidence – it is your press release that recklessly ignores facts in a transparent attempt to disparage our work.

While we welcome an open an honest dialogue on the important issues surrounding bottled water, the International Bottled Water Association’s attack against the Pacific Institute and Dr. Gleick is inaccurate, irresponsible, and wrong. You should immediately correct the mistakes as outlined above.

Nicholas L. Cain, Communications Director