Thanks to the tireless work of student activists, the University of Ottawa became the first university in Ontario to put a complete and immediate stop to the sale of bottled water on its campuses in 2010. The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Sustainable Development Centre has recently re-launched the Back the Tap campaign. Back the Tap is a movement to end the sale and distribution of bottled water in public buildings and facilities, and promote access to public tap water. In the coming weeks, you’ll find informative posters all around campus that help us remember why we should fill-up at public water fountains.

Some troubling facts about the multi-million dollar bottled water industry:

Bottled-water is often shipped around the world before it makes it to you, burning millions of barrels of oil in the process. Public tap water, on the other hand, typically travels less than 10km to make it to you. Twenty-five per cent of bottled water is just public tap water repackaged and sold at 2000x the price. It takes 3 litres of public tap water to produce 1 litre of bottled water. 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year, 99 per cent of which is not recycled. For many of us, we can access clean drinking water at the nearest faucet or fountain, but over 100 First Nations communities lack access to safe and reliable drinking water.

This campaign is about more than the plastic bottles, it’s about stopping the privatization of public resources and ensuring all people can exercise their human right to water. On Monday, March 16, join us for World Water Day in the Faculty of Social Science building (FSS) 4004 from 4–6 p.m. as we celebrate this monumental study victory five years later with a documentary, stimulating conversation, and free snacks. As always, all students can get a free re-usable water bottle anytime from the SFUO Sustainable Development Centre in UCU 215-F.

Emily Niles

Fourth-year political science student

Campaigns Organizer, Sustainable Development Centre