Members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), representing bottlers, distributors, and suppliers from across the country participated in IBWA’s June Capitol Hill Day this week.
This event allows IBWA members to directly interact with their federal elected representatives and staffs, and inform them about the many issues important to America’s bottled water industry.
This was the fourth Hill Day IBWA members have participated in to date during 2013. More than 40 individuals representing 25 IBWA member companies did more than 70 visits during the afternoon, including 30 direct visits with Members of Congress.
Before their afternoon meetings on Wednesday, Congressman John Barrow (D-GA 12th), spoke with IBWA members about the importance of constituents meeting with their members of Congress. Educating elected officials about the impact their actions have on the bottled water industry helps to broaden the discussion about effective and appropriate regulation and legislation.
Several issues important to the bottled water industry may be considered by Congress this year and were on IBWA’s agenda for this week’s Hill Day, including bottled water quality reporting and labeling, ENERGY STAR certification requirements for water coolers, unwarranted restrictions on the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging, and the need for increased U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding.
While IBWA represents companies of all sizes, the vast majority of the members are small, locally-owned companies, with 60 percent reporting less than $2 million in annual gross sales and 90 percent reporting less than $10 million in annual gross sales.
Based on new analysis conducted for IBWA by John Dunham and Associates, companies that manufacture, distribute, and sell bottled water products in the U.S. currently employ over 136,840 individuals and generate an additional 334,860 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.
Not only does the manufacture and sale of bottled water create good jobs in the U.S., it also contributes to the nation’s economy as a whole. In fact, the U.S. bottled water industry is currently responsible for as much as $102.33 billion in total economic activity in the U.S.
Additionally, companies that produce, distribute, and sell bottled water; their employees; and other firms and employees that depend on bottled water for their livelihoods, provide the Federal government with over $5.83 billion in total tax revenues. State and local governments benefit from over $3.93 billion in business and personal taxes paid by these firms and their employees.
Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by the FDA as a packaged food product and it provides a consistently safe and reliable source of drinking water. By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that govern tap water. And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are substantially more stringent.