Congressional Bottled Water Legislation

September 2008

Just one day after the Senate Subcommittee hearing on bottled water, Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced S 3475 (ATTACHED), which would require among other provisions Consumer Confidence Reports by bottled water companies. S 3475 is similar to S 790, which Sen. Lautenberg introduced in the 106th Congress. Within two years of the effective date of the bill, the legislation would require FDA to establish standards of quality for bottled water as protective of public health and as stringent as those established by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the World Health Organization, the European Union and the state of California. Failure to meet this deadline would result in the jurisdiction over bottled water being transferred to the EPA. The legislation would also require bottlers to prepare and submit to FDA consumer confidence reports and label their product with the range of detections of contaminants, the maximum contaminant level (MCL), a definition of MCL, the range of detections of unregulated contaminants the source of the water, treatment, an internet website and a toll free telephone number. Bottlers would also be required to post the testing results on an internet website and make the report available in English, Spanish and any other language FDA deems appropriate. In the past, both Senators have expressed interest in requiring consumer confidence reports for bottled water, as well as and transferring bottled water jurisdiction from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As we testified at the Senate hearing, IBWA supports a consumer’s right to clear, accurate, and comprehensive information about the bottled water products they purchase. All food products, including bottled water, are subject to extensive FDA regulations that already provide consumers with a great deal of product quality information. Virtually every bottled water product also includes a phone number on the label, which consumers can use to contact the company. The most feasible mechanism for consumers to obtain information not already on the label is through a request to the bottler. If a consumer is not satisfied with the information provided by the bottled water company he or she can choose another bottled water brand – an option not available to tap water consumers.

On a related matter, as of June 2008, IBWA has added “water quality information” for all IBWA member brands to the IBWA website: This new feature enables consumers to link directly to water quality information that is provided on a company’s website or provides consumers with information on how to obtain that brand’s water quality information from the bottler.