The city of Ketchum has banned the sale and distribution of single-use water bottle containers on city property.
The City Council voted Sept. 21 to block the use of the bottles and to discourage the use of plastic packaging and foam containers.
“The ban is part of Ketchum’s efforts to set an example as an ecologically sensitive community,” Mayor Nina Jonas told Council members when she introduced the resolution. The resolution also said that tap water is safe and tastes good. The city tests municipal drinking water more than 50 times a year, the city said in a prepared statement.
“It sure must have been a slow day at the City Council to get down to that level of stuff to work on,” said Charley Jones, who owns the Boise-based Stinker convenience store chain. There is a Stinker store in Hailey, next to Ketchum, that sells bottled water.
Single-use water bottles have long been blamed for pollution, and many cities and organizations have discouraged their use with mixed success. Concord, Mass., was one of the first cities to ban the bottles outright, citing their impact on landfills and the fossil fuels used to produce the bottles. The U.S. public goes through about 50 billion water bottles a year, according to National Geographic.
“As a society, we are needlessly spending money on bottled water that often is lower quality than tap water. We then put the bottles, made of billions of pounds of oil-based plastic, into the landfill,” Jonas said in the prepared statement. “We use even more resources to transport water – often from other continents.”
Jones said the Ketchum ban was unnecessary.
“A huge majority of people are responsible consumers and take care of their disposable items in a responsible way,” he said. “Really, the people in Ketchum are pretty environmentally conscious already, so that’s just an odd thing do to. But because it’s only on city property and such, maybe that’s appropriate. The city can dictate what happens on their locations.”
Ketchum said it will buy hydration stations so people can fill their own water bottles at public events and city meetings.
Updated with Jones’ comments at 1:20 pm Sept. 22