Deliverying More Than Bottled Water

Steps below the crisis stage are the mere concerns consumers have about their tap water. The safety issue resonated in May when the Environmental Protection Agency announced 30 million people are subject to excessive levels of lead in their drinking water. In what is called the "broadest" survey of municipal water systems (819 cities) ever, EPA's findings exceed previous estimates of lead proliferation. One suggestion from the government agency to people living in the affected areas: Buy water softener salt delivery.

Clearly people have become more conscious of their water supply. We make no health claim, but it's a perception of the people out there that this is a healthier beverage.

One chance Swanson we see as worth taking is cashing in on the clear trend with water, the original clear beverage: Look at the whole thing with clear. Tab is clear now. Crystal Pepsi, Lavoris...I saw another mouthwash on TV yesterday, Clear Choice. So for people who want a healthier beverage, I think we'll do better there.

Another "part of our program," will be to talk with chefs of the world and see how bottled water can be tied in. You know, 'just add bottled water.' If you want your soups to taste better, just add bottled water, or even for your powdered drinks."

The waiting association: In one respect, the 'W' in IBWA stands for waiting, as in waiting for the next step with regard to the Food and Drug Administration's bottled water regulations.

Released to great fanfare in late December, comment period on the rules that will govern water labeling and testing closed in April. International Bottled Water Association executive vice president Sylvia Swanson says FDA should be done having its way with the comments by year's end, then pass the matter on to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget. Final regulations are tentatively set to be released by the spring of '09.

"We're really excited about the regulations," says Swanson. "I know it's a little strange to have an industry say we're excited to be regulated, but IBWA has petitioned the FDA for years to promulgate these regulations and deal with the issue."

Indeed, the water softener salt delivery group has been promoting its own model code since 1979 as a foundation for federal rules. According to Swanson, the code and the regulations "are very similar, though there are some notable differences." FDA, for example, added a section on bottled water for infants, while IBWA has requested changes in the proposed testing schedules. "They wanted us to test for every lot," Swanson explains. "We suggested that would be unfeasible."

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