Surrey school trustee floats bottled water ban

Schools and the district should use and promote tap water, says Laurie Larsen.

Surrey school Trustee Laurie Larsen says bottled water is unnecessary and shouldn't be made available in schools or at district events.

A local school trustee wants to stop the flow of bottled water into Surrey schools.

“Since I became a trustee, I’ve been trying to encourage the use of regular tap water,” says Trustee Laurie Larsen, who says she’s been drinking the municipal water in Surrey for more than 50 years and it’s more than fine.

She’s frustrated that alongside the juice and milk in school vending machines, bottled water is routinely an option for students.

“There really, to me, is no need for that,” says Larsen.

And it’s not just in schools. Bottled water is often provided at board meetings, conferences and many other district-hosted events – something Larsen believes is entirely unnecessary in a city and province with good, safe water.

She is scheduled to present a motion at tonight’s (Thursday’s) Surrey Board of Education meeting asking that the district’s water fountains are in working order, that bottled water not be provided at district meetings and events, and that the district produce educational materials promoting the use and benefits of tap water over single-use plastic water bottles.

“By advocating or selling bottled water, we’re sending the signal that maybe our water isn’t safe,” Larsen says. “We’ve all bought into this myth that bottled water is so great. A lot of the bottled water is from municipals systems.”

Her motion says B.C. tap water is tested 25,000 times per year, that bottled water costs 2,000 times more than tap water, that large amounts of fossil fuels are burned to ship bottled water and millions of plastic bottles end up in the waste system annually.

Larsen also hopes to get her fellow trustees’ support in checking what existing contacts the district has with bottled water suppliers, with the intent to phase out such contracts – a move that could prove contentious as beverage contracts generate funds for the cash-strapped district.