Food Safety tappedproduction-line-still

Published on December 3rd, 2009 | by Keith Rockmael

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New Documentary “Tapped” Makes Bottled Water Look All Wet





While watching the new documentary “Tapped” with some of my other Greenies, we glanced at each other when one of the water rights experts used a notable quote courtesy of Mark Twain, “Whiskey is for sipping and water is for fighting.” So true, and the fighting will only get worse at least if you believe the water wars that will soon steal the headlines from the oil wars. Twain’s words echo much of the sentiment for this interesting, informative and thought provoking new docu flick.

Directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the film deconstructs the various aspects of the bottled water industry. Tapped examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. Unlike oil which people think of as a commodity, water hasn’t truly hasn’t been considered a commodity until recently. Although water wars and rights have become big news in various countries, Tapped jumps into the fray and pulls no punches right here in the U.S. The film targets (among others) the big three bottled water companies (Nestle, Coke and Pepsi who declined to be interviewed for the film), the International Bottled Water Association, and the FDA.

Tapped leaps right into water rights war between Swiss owned Nestle (who owns various bottle water brands including Poland Springs and Arrowhead) and the town of Fryeburg, ME. The film shows compelling footage and as well as local interviews which show that Nestle stealthy bought the rights to land in an effort to suck all of the water supply from the ground that it can without the consent or payment to the public. The film captures footage of tanker trucks quietly rolling into town but instead of loading up with black gold, they fill up with blue gold (H2O). Soechtig creates more drama as she displays the protests and grassroots movement demonstrations while showing and discussing the Nestle tactics.

They say that oil and water don’t mix, but nothing could be further from the truth when considering the plastic water bottles. The film flows with information about the hazardous materials found in the petroleum based plastic water bottles. Most companies produce water bottles using BPA which as the film claims can causes cancer, brain disorders and diabetes among other diseases. Even though the FDA claims that small levels of BPA to be safe that approval is based upon two chemical company studies. We loved the footage of Senator John Kerry grilling an FDA employee about the lack of third party, independent studies that the FDA uses to determine the safety of various plastic water bottle ingredients.

Speaking of the FDA, the bottled water does not fall under FDA jurisdiction as far as water quality, and it’s horrifying to watch the FDA spokespeople (as well as the spokespeople from the International Bottled Water Association) refuse to answer or simple gloss over questions about various studies and quotes about the quality of the water and the containers. It’s pretty much a self regulated industry so caveat emptor to all bottled water drinkers.

The film also pulls a few heart strings when Soechtig interviews local residents in Corpus Christi who live next to the largest private manufacturer of plastic water bottles. The documentary makes a strong case that the manufacturer looms as a sort of plastic Three Mile Island for the local residents who deal with various diseases and defects because of their proximity.

Tapped surprises with info about the worldwide effects of plastic water bottles (i.e. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of five ocean plastic zones in the oceans) as well and lots of insider info from various experts and even an ex-FDA employee.  At some points the film becomes a bit repetitive as it encircles the same points but overall the film offers keen insight into the bottle water industry and leaves the companies making the bottles, sucking the water from the ground, and regulating the industry looking all wet.

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About the Author

Living in progressively Green San Francisco, Keith Rockmael works in Commercial Real Estate, Leasing and Business Opportunities with a special interest in Green Real Estate and Green Businesses. He also works with restaurants and bars in helping them to Green their businesses. Please contact him regarding health, business, environment or Green finance questions or referrals. He maintains his own blog at Greenerati.com. Contact him at: pepeflaco@gmail.com



  • http://www.bottledwater.org Tom Lauria — IBWA

    The International Bottled Water Association worked in good faith with Stephanie Soechtig on “Tapped,” only to find MOST of our comments deliberate cut-out, destroying our side of the situation. In the film, the director’s fast-paced edits of IBWA’s Joe Doss proves my point. No wonder this one-sided lecture did not receive or earn commerical distribution; it’s HACK film-making at its very worst. You writing about “Tapped” not pulling punches…well, Stephanie pulled OUR punches, whether we wanted her to do it or not. This mess is what happens when an organization acts in good faith to cooperate with critics. I lobbied hard to get IBWA to appearance on camera “to be fair and to be heard,” but what we got was a nasty slice-n-dice job by an activist out to get us with deceitful, underhanded editing tactics. By the way, the FDA regulates the bottled water industry more intensely than most other packaged food products. Do facts even matter to angry activists?

  • S.Erickson

    I understand how film making can be one sided sometimes due to they know what they want to focus on and sometimes do not bend as they should. But from what I got – part of their point was not just that the water is often better from the tap but that the whole process, drinking from plastic, made from petroleum, and then disposed of with out any regard more often than not to our environment – is also the problem. I guess I see it as a losing argument from your POV anyhow. How can you defend the above, really? Shipping water from other countries like Fiji, I have heard (not verified) prior to this film that the people who live there don’t even have decent drinking water… I find it believable esp. after watching this. Some of the bottlers are just raping some of these US towns, stealing all their water due to loopholes in the laws. It’s just simply wrong.

  • http://Web Kray

    Hey Tom,
    So. What’s your comments on the amount of water that was being sucked out of the lakes during the droughts when local citizens were not allowed to water their lawns and wash their cars, or faced other restrictions?

    How about having 3rd parties provide investigations into the potential health risks of your bottles on the population and to the environment.

    Your comments most likely got cut out because you are hired by the bottled water industry to brainwash people into buying and drinking their product, not to protect people.

    I’ll tell you what, If you give me the money to make the film, I will do a film solely based on your point of view. However, you also have to have independent 3rd parties run tests on your products, the bottles, the production and the acquisition tactics of the companies you work for.

    Sound fair?

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