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This article was published 7/6/2011 (3216 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba government banned the purchase of single-use bottled water on Tuesday to set the example of what they want the rest of us to do.
Drink from the tap.
Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie said the government will only buy individual-use bottled water when clean tap water is not available or in emergency situations, like for forest firefighting crews in remote areas.
Manitoba's move follows a similar one taken by Nova Scotia last year. It also follows steps already taken by the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University and Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface over the past two years.
"The move recognizes I think what we all know: the impact plastic water bottles have on our environment and we're hoping that more Manitobans will follow suit to make this change wherever possible," Blaikie said.
Blaikie also said the goal is to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles that wind up in the garbage or clog up recycling depots.
Provincial employees will also be encouraged to stop buying bottled water for their own use while at work, he added.
While the ban is more symbolic than anything, Laurel McDonald of the Manitoba Eco-Network's Water Caucus and Marakary Bayo of the Canadian Federation of Students said it helps teach consumers they don't have to buy bottled water from vending machines or stores when clean, cheaper tap water or water fountains are nearby.
"Bottled water is often shipped around the world before it makes it to you, burning millions of barrels of oil," Bayo said. "Tap water travels mere kilometres."
Blaikie also said the province does not intend to totally ban the retail sale of single-use bottled water products.
"What we're trying to do here is show some leadership, a first step in trying to change the culture that's developed over the last 10 to 15 years of using bottled water," he said. "The private sector sometimes has an ability to do this, to see where things are going and to try and change by itself."
Cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Charlottetown have taken steps to ban single-use bottles in some buildings and Winnipeg briefly entertained a ban in 2008, but later rejected it. Ontario also rejected a ban in 2008.
In Manitoba, Altona and Dauphin have restricted the sale of bottled water at its facilities.
Bottled water by the numbers
What the province spent on bottled water from 2004 to 2010, according to information from the procurement services branch.
What was spent on single-use bottles, more than 700,000 of them over a five-year span.
41 per cent:
What Statistics Canada says is the percentage of Winnipeggers who drink bottled water at home, despite having access to municipal water.