The Washington Post

D.C. Water to Congress: Tap water at the inauguration, please

Clean, refreshing tap water! (Sushanta Das/AP)

Earlier this month, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — who is chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies — announced that cobalt blue bottles of Saratoga Spring Water would be served at inaugural events.

This has prompted something of a row in environmental circles, with some activists decrying the ecological side effects of bottled water (the bottles, for one) and asking, what’s wrong with tap?

Now D.C. Water has written Schumer asking him to reconsider importing his home-state H2O — the latest in an ongoing campaign to encourage tap water consumption by a utility endeavoring to repair its water’s sullied reputation.

”DC tap water is a penny per gallon and bottled water costs 100 times more,” notes General Manager George S. Hawkins, adding “[i]f you choose to provide costly, environmentally harmful bottled water, we encourage you to at least provide attendees with a choice and also offer local DC tap water.”

Hawkins offers to provide free reusable water bottles and free water testing in congressional buildings.

While a treatment change by the system’s federal water supplier caused lead to leach from pipes in many homes last decade, the chemistry has long since been readjusted and recent testing has indicated D.C. tap water is perfectly safe to drink.

In related news, the utility wants city residents to take the “D.C. Water Challenge” — that is, a series of blind taste tests challenging tasters to tell the difference between the bottled stuff and tap. More information on dates and locations can be found at

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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