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from the SO website:

For the fourth year in a row, the Green Ribbon Awards recognized the outstanding sustainable achievements of students, staff, faculty members and external partners who have minimized environmental impacts, conserved natural resources and promoted biodiversity on campus.

Award 2—Student Category:

The Public Water Initiative

-PWI is a multi-partisan student group advocating clean & publicly accessible water sources on campus
-two of the founding members, Anda Petro and Leanne Rasmussen, were instrumental in the recent elimination of bottled water sales at most campus food outlet, providing an example of the lasting change students can have on U of T’s social and environmental landscape

Anda is photographed below with Sustainability Director Beth Saven and a Board Member.

Past winners:


More groups in support of PWI and ending the sale of bottled water at U of T.

– the U of T Faculty Club
– the Office of the Faculty Registrar, Arts and Science
– the Office of the Dean, Arts and Science
– Hart House Events & Catering
– University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU)
– Arts & Science Students Union (ASSU)
– Toronto Undergraduate Geography Society (TUGs)
– CUPE3902
– Graduate Students Union (GSU)
– Professor Danny Harvey, Department of Geography, University of Toronto
– Kady McFadden – Leader of “Tap it” WUSTL student campaign at Washington University in St. Louis

If you would like your group added to this list, please email us!!

Vancouver proposes bottled water ban at facilities: Globe and Mail
Posted: April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009

VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver is proposing to go green and ban the sale of bottled water at its facilities – despite crystal-clear memories of the cloudy tap water during flooding two years ago.

The proposal would see the phased removal of bottled water from city facilities and more spending for water fountains and sinks where reusable water bottles can be filled with Vancouver tap water, which the report boasts is “among the best in the world.”

“The intent is not to drive people back to soda pop. You’ve got to make sure there is a viable alternative,” said Brian Crowe, assistant city engineer.

The ban would affect facilities ranging from the Pacific National Exhibition, where the 2010 Olympic figure-skating and speed-skating events are to be hosted, civically owned theatres such as the Queen Elizabeth that serve bottled water at intermission, and social service providers such as the Carnegie Centre.

The proposal estimates that as much as $840,000 a year may be lost if the sale of bottled water is stopped at these and other city-owned facilities.

The changes would not put a significant dent in the number of water bottles that go to Vancouver landfills, but are seen as a way for the city to demonstrate its “leadership on sustainability” and “confidence in the tap water quality” of Vancouver, according to the proposal.

In November, 2006, confidence in tap water was shaken when about two million residents of Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Burnaby were cautioned to boil their tap water or buy bottled water for a 12-day period after a storm caused landslides that stirred up drinking water reservoirs. Bottled water was tough to come by.

That headache-inducing hiccup in Vancouver’s otherwise usually good tap water record put it on a list of mostly aboriginal, rural, and northern communities who are consistently warned to boil their tap water.

A report published in February, 2008 by the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed 1,766 boil water advisories were in place in communities across the country at that time, with Ontario and British Columbia home to the most – communities for whom banning bottled water is not an option.

Vancouver’s proposed ban follows a resolution last month from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to encourage bottled water bans and a wave of bottled water restrictions in municipalities across Canada.

Thirty-six municipalities including Toronto, Burnaby, and Metro Vancouver have already passed restrictions, 20 of them since January, according to Joe Cressy, spokesman for the Polaris Institute.

The proposal also follows concern over the quality and monitoring of bottled water. Last month, the Polaris Institute obtained documents through Access to Information requests that showed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency often finds problems with bottled water but doesn’t tell the public about them.

They called the bottled water industry “essentially self-regulating” and said that there is “a serious lack of regulatory control by the Government of Canada over bottled water production.”

The proposal to ban bottled water sales will go before Vancouver city council on Thursday, according to Mr. Crowe.

Posted: April 23, 2009

Apr 22, 2009 04:30 AM
John Spears

It’s hard to kick the bottle, the City of Toronto is discovering – especially when the bottle is made of plastic, and contains plain water.

Last December, city council voted to ban bottled water from City Hall and other civic centres.

But yesterday, as Scarborough community council met in Scarborough Civic Centre, councillors in the cafeteria were confronted with a stand-alone rack containing dozens of plastic bottles of water.

Those who didn’t want to poke their heads into the cafeteria could throw a few coins into the vending machine just outside the door, where water was also on sale in plastic bottles.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker was gobsmacked. As chair of the city’s works committee, he had spearheaded the drive to ban bottled water.

“They shouldn’t be here. Somebody made a mistake somewhere,” said De Baeremaeker. “It’s hard for me to be saying you should be drinking a glass of good, clean city tap water when we’ve got this on display.”

De Baeremaeker said the city’s size may be the reason policy is being so blatantly flouted in a prominent civic centre. “I guess when you work in a corporation with 50,000 employees … somebody, somewhere, didn’t communicate with the private-sector contractor who runs the cafeteria.”

It took months to root bottled water out of City Hall itself, as the contractor who supplies the building’s vending machines continued to fill them with bottled water. City staff eventually resorted to sticking hockey tape over the buttons used to select bottled water until the supplier relented.

De Baeremaeker said he’ll remind staff to make sure policy is carried out in civic centres.


OTTAWA, March 24, 2009 – In a new report released today by the Polaris Institute, the current state of federal bottled water regulations in Canada is shown to be woefully inadequate.

The new report, Murky Waters: The urgent need for health and environmental regulations of the bottled water industry, describes numerous troubling findings:

-Since 2000, there have been 29 recalls of 49 bottled water products in Canada (obtained through Access to Information by the Polaris Institute:

-Bottled water plants are inspected on average once every 3 years; tap water is regulated and inspected multiple times daily.

-The current mandatory labeling of bottled water products does not sufficiently address a number of health concerns related to content, storage and expiry dates.

-Bottled water production is as much as 2000 times more energy intensive than tap water.

“It is deeply concerning that the 1 in 3 Canadians who primarily drink bottled water as their source of drinking water, are consuming an unregulated and environmentally harmful product” says Joe Cressy, Campaigns Coordinator of the Polaris Institute and co-author of the report.

“The report clearly shows the urgent need for the Government of Canada to take action and implement health and environmental regulations of bottled water”, says Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute and author of Inside the Bottle.

For More Information:
Joe Cressy, Polaris Institute, 613-668-5542,
Tony Clarke, Polaris Institute, 613, 237-1717 x102 or 613-769-9226 or 613-746-8374

PWI’s Karen Jia-Yun Cao appeared today at 11:05AM on CIUT.FM, toronto’s University of Toronto radio station, which plays a mix of indie, alternative, talk and everything in between, for an interview about the initiative.

Karen (also an executive of the Toronto Undergraduate Geography Society, and Oxfam Canada – U of T Chapter), was on hand with hosts, Colum Grove-White (also President of the Arts and Science Students Union, and an executive of the Peace and Conflict Society (PACS)), Alexis Chapman (Senior Communications Officer at Hart House), and Kimberley Stemshorn (also an executive on the Arts and Science Students Union) to provide information and updates to questions and concerns surrounding what is so important about this intiative, different cities and groups that have banned bottled water already and the environmental, social and health implications of increased usage and reliance on bottled water over tap water.

– the U of T Faculty Club
– the Office of the Faculty Registrar
– the Office of the Dean
– Hart House Events & Catering
– Arts & Science Students Union (ASSU)
– Toronto Undergraduate Geography Society (TUGs)

We are confident more will be added to this list very soon…


Water is a human right first, not for profit.

Welcome to the Public Water Initiative at the University of Toronto (also known as PWI at U of T) page. PWI is a multi-partisan student group working with partners and community organizations like the Polaris Institute, U of T Food Services, and Governing Council Members at the University of Toronto to advocate for sustainable, clean and publicly accessible water sources on campus.

We are currently developing our 2009-2010 campaign to help provide alternatives to bottled water on campus, and increase awareness of the importance of maintaining public water systems.

It is our long-term goal to end the sale and distribution of bottled water at the university, by increasing access to clean, public sources while phasing out bottles across the campus.  This would be done working through a coalition of faculty, staff and student groups.  The ban would *NOT* limit your right to buy bottled water from off-campus sources, or to consume it on campus if you have it.

Why the focus on bottled water?

Bottled water is not a trivial issue when 1 in 3 Canadians drink it exclusively for their water consumption and believe it to be safer and cleaner than tap water.  Concerns with bottled water’s health, environmental, social and economic implications should make its use only as a last resort in situations of emergencies.

If you would like to get involved, find out more information about bottled vs. tap water, or offer your group’s support, PLEASE EMAIL:
. Leanne Rasmussen:
. Karen Jia-Yun Cao:
. Group email:

Or find us on Facebook!