I have often spoken to audiences about how similar DC Water is to a private company. Our ratepayers to me are parallel to stockholders, and we have to do everything we can to maximize the service and efficiency of what we offer them. While not providing dividends or profits, we can translate improved financial performance into reduced pressure to increase rates, or even perhaps a reduction. For fiscal year 2012, for example, DC Water will allocate part of our net surplus to providing a rate rebate.
Parallel to considering our ratepayers as stockholders, we should consider them as customers as well. Our main product is clean water, which we deliver to every dwelling and building in the District 24 hours a day. In this case, we do compete directly with other companies — in this case huge bottling corporations that have convinced the public that paying high prices for drinking water in a plastic bottle makes sense. I believe that bottled water is an appropriate choice in some cases. I also firmly believe that bottled water is a choice that is made far too often, with significant negative consequences to people, our city and the planet. On an economic front, we know that bottled water often costs a hundred times more than water from the tap. A pint of water from the tap costs pennies – yet the same amount costs several dollars or more in a bottle. We also know that bottled water is rarely any safer than tap water, and is usually less frequently tested and monitored. Finally, we also know how much energy is taken to extract water from the ground, bottle it in plastic (which must be manufactured), ship around the world – and then the bottle is discarded thereafter.
Bottom line is that DC Water is determined to compete for each and every customer who has a choice to drink our water for pennies, or spend so much more for water in a bottle. Part of that competition is demonstrating that our water tastes just as good. Last summer we held taste tests all over the District. The result? DC tap water was rated either better, or indistinguishable from bottled water, just about 2/3rds of the time. Given how much less expensive it is, and how much less consequence it has on the environment, we think the choice is clear.
Drink DC Tap!!
Water Taste Test (WTTG-TV, 08/22/2012)
or Bottled? DC Water Offers Taste Test (WUSA-TV, 08/22/2012)
Fight: Is There a Difference Between D.C. Tap and Bottled Water? (WNEW-FM,
You Can Tell the Difference Between D.C. Tap Water and Bottled Water? Go Ahead
and Try (DCist, 08/22/2012)
You Think You Can Tell The Difference Between DC Tap Water and Bottled Water?
Prove It! (Prince of Petworth, 08/22/2012)