Legislative committee dumps bill to ban government bottled water purchases

Posted April 05, 2013, at 12:28 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill seeking to prohibit state and local governments from buying bottled water met with opposition Thursday in the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.

The committee voted 10-1 against the measure, LD 315, sponsored by Rep. Brian Jones, D-Freedom. Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, was the only committee member to support the bill.

The committee’s vote came more than a month after a public hearing at which representatives from the state’s water utilities, fire chiefs and the Department of Transportation objected to the bill, arguing that bottled water is the safest and most convenient way to keep emergency responders and road workers hydrated at job sites far from potable water sources.

Environmental advocates at the hearing argued the move would save the state thousands of dollars and thrust Maine into a leadership role in a nationwide effort to reduce waste from bottled water.

The fiscal note attached to the bill estimated the move to ban bottled water purchases would save the state more than $11,000 annually.