City looks at water's untapped potential; Council members like idea of investigating bottling it for sale


Next to the Evian, the Poland Springs and the Deer Park you could someday see a bottle of Baltimore water.

Baltimore City Council members want to test the notion that the city's tap water can compete with the name-brand springs in the stores.

Council members introduced a resolution last night calling on the city's public works director to report on the feasibility of bottling Baltimore's water for sale.

Said council President Lawrence A. Bell III: "Baltimore City water is considered to be some of the best water in the country."

Agreeing with Bell and other council members, Councilman Melvin L. Stukes said the city should have capitalized on its water long ago.

"I don't believe Baltimore has taken advantage of the natural resources it has," said Stukes.

The idea of bottling city water isn't new. Giant Food began selling Baltimore tap water more than a decade ago as a house brand.

Aquafina purified water comes from Orlando, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; and nearby Cheverly. Other cities such as Houston, Kansas City and North Miami Beach have long been exploring the idea of bottling and selling their own water.

The interest comes from a booming bottled water business that has been on the rise in the past several decades.

The bottled water business sells the leading drink throughout the nation with billions in sales each year.

All kinds are on the market -- "artesian water," "mineral water," "purified water," "sparkling water," and "well water."

Bell said the city will have to sort through legal issues if officials decide to peddle its water on the open market, but the council appears ready to tap into Baltimore's water supply as a source of revenue.

"There's a lot of money that could be made," Bell said. "We have good water and we can make money off of that."

Pub Date: 2/23/99

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