Grand Canyon National Park to Eliminate Sale of Water in Disposable Containers

6:28 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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This recent press release from the National Park Service ends nearly a year of internal debate over the sales of bottled water in Grand Canyon National Park
 

Intermountain Region News Release

Grand Canyon National Park to Eliminate Sale of Water in Disposable Containers

Denver, Colo.  Grand Canyon National Park will eliminate the in-park sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers within 30 days under a plan approved today by National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional (IMR) Director John Wessels. Free water stations are available throughout the park to allow visitors to fill reusable water bottles. The park's plan calls for the elimination of the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers of less than one gallon, including plastic bottles and various types of boxes. The waste associated with disposable bottles comprises an estimated 20 percent of the park's overall waste stream and 30 percent of the park's recyclables.Grand Canyon National Park's plan was submitted and approved in accordance with the policy issued by NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on December 14, 2011.

Under the policy, parks are directed to implement a disposable plastic water bottle recycling and reduction policy, with an option to eliminate in-park sales, with the approval of the park's regional director following a thorough analysis of a variety of factors ranging from the cost to install water filling stations, to the cost and availability of BPA-free reusable containers, to potential effects on public safety.  "Our parks should set the standard for resource protection and sustainability," said Regional Director Wessels."Grand Canyon National Park has provided an excellent analysis of the impacts the elimination of bottled water would have, and has developed a well-thought-out plan for ensuring that the safety, needs and comfort of visitors continue to be met in the park. I feel confident that the impacts to park concessioners and partners have been given fair consideration and that this plan can be implemented with minimal impacts to the visiting public."

Grand Canyon National Park has experienced increasing amounts of litter associated with disposable plastic bottles along trails both on the rim and within the inner canyon, marring canyon viewpoints and visitor experiences."We want to minimize both the monetary and environmental costs associated with water packaged in disposable containers," said Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "We are grateful to the Director for recognizing the need for service-wide guidance on this issue and for providing a thoughtful range of options.A lot of careful thought went into this plan and its implementation,"said Director Jarvis.  "I applaud Grand Canyon National Park for its efforts to reduce waste and the environmental impacts created by individually packaged water.  This is another example of The National Park Service's commitment to being an exemplar of the ways we can all reduce our imprint on the land as we embrace sustainable practices that will protect the parks for generations to come."

To view a copy of the servicewide policy on reduction of disposable plastic bottles in parks, go towww.nps.gov/policy/plastic.pdf.  For additional information on the NPS policy on disposable plastic bottles, please contact IMR Associate Regional Director for communications and external relations Rick Frost at 303-987-6732.

For more on Grand Canyon's plan to eliminate the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers, please contact Grand Canyon Public Affairs Specialist Shannan Marcak at 928-638-7958.  And for more on Grand Canyon's voluntary reusable water bottle program, please visit the park's web site at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/refilling_stations.htm.

-- NPS --

EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA

Setting this policy was not without controversy, as Coke, a major supporter of National Parks, derives a substantial share of it's revenue from the sales of bottled water and soft drinks. 

What's your take? Should National Parks be "bottle-less" zones? Should bottles be permitted and anti-littering laws more vigorously enforced? Does the importance of hydrating in the Grand Canyon's notoriously hot depths change the tone of this debate?

11:39 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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I think they should not eliminate the bottles for rim tourists. But that they should enforce littering rigorously and promote using reusable bottles as an alternative. For hiking the canyon...yeah...no disposable bottles.

11:50 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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Good! One could always bring a Nalgene or any reusable bottle and fill up at the stations. 

Nothing worse than being on a beautiful hike and seeing some @&&holes garbage. 

9:09 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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I wish they would outlaw all plastic bottles.

1:09 p.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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From the press release it sounds like it's not just about litter but also reducing the overall volume of properly-disposed of trash, which presumably gets trucked out. Anyway, kudos for taking a stand on this one. Now I suppose the sale of empty, non-disposable water bottles in stores along the rim will spike. Something to take home.

1:15 p.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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I believe this to be a good thing. I typically use a bladder year round and carry a bottle on my pack for my cooking water, etc.

I look at it like this, if it is an action that will help preserve the natural beauty of the area then I am all for it. 

As I have said so many times people do not want to hike in a landfill...

9:12 p.m. on February 8, 2012 (EST)
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I envision enterprising store owners on the roads leading to the park rejoicing at this ruling. There will be billboards proclaiming, 'Canyon ahead, 110 degrees, Last Chance to Buy Drinking Water Here!', or 'Buy Water Here, No Water in Park!'

:-)

1:08 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Zion National Park, in Southern Utah, has been enforcing this policy for two years. Summer temperatures average 100 F every day.  The trash cans in the main canyon as well as recycle containers still overflow with disposable water bottles on the busiest days, but not as much as before the policy went into effect. It's not that hard to educate the park visitors on this subject.

4:21 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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It's not that hard to educate the park visitors on this subject.

 

Hmmmm, could you elaborate a bit more in depth upon what you mean? I am left wondering by this response what you are referring too.

Is this due to a lack of effort by staff in regards to "educating frequent fliers" or lack of interest by those frequenting the area?

8:52 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

skiboyrob said:

It's not that hard to educate the park visitors on this subject.

 

Hmmmm, could you elaborate a bit more in depth upon what you mean? I am left wondering by this response what you are referring too.

Is this due to a lack of effort by staff in regards to "educating frequent fliers" or lack of interest by those frequenting the area?

 I think people who are not mindful of what really happens around them justify ignoring such rules because they don't care to be put out. "my little bottle won't hurt" kind of thing. What are the rangers going to do when you multiply that by thousands..shut down the park. It serves a a deterrent but nothing more. I don't know the numbers, but I would guess most visitors are not outdoorsy, not concerned about much outside their own vacation and don't live in such harsh climates. "what is a nalgene bottle?" "the only bladder I have needs t be emptied...and I mean NOW!" Here in the DSW we tell people DRINK DRINK DRINK but a drinking fountain is not going to do it here in the summer. Nor is one small bottle to carry in and carry out. Old people standing in lines to fill their bottles in the sun......there is no perfect solution. I still say deter the use of bottles on the rim, ban it going down in the canyon.

10:47 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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giftogab said:

I still say deter the use of bottles on the rim, ban it going down in the canyon.

 In large part, I agree with you, Gift. 

On the other hand, it does create a bit of a conundrum as far as definition is concerned: how would "Refillable Bottle" be defined? What if for budgetary (poor college student) or ideological (I love mother earth reuse EVERYTHING)  reasons a person always uses regular drink bottles as their primary reservoirs?  I actually know a couple people who do that just because they are cheap. 

3:34 p.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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No matter how many signs are posted and verbal warnings are given, people will be human and miss important items. Some just don't care about the rules that are in place to help preserve the national parks and to protect the visitor. So it is with the water bottles. Some visitors only need a quick heads up on "this is the way we do water here". Some just do what they want anyway.

4:16 p.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Its the grand canyon. Most people are there once on a tour bus laden with junk food and water bottles. Not selling water on the rim would be one way...but what are you going to do about the 70 year old with nothing to put the water in.

8:14 p.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Treehugger has a short piece on this, which includes a picture of one of the new water filling stations:

http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/grand-canyon-bans-bottled-water-sales.html

I love when places have water filling stations for reusable bottles. The Portland, Maine, airport has one in the terminal (after security). It's no touch. Just put your water bottle under and it fills. So you can fill up before a flight and not have to buy bottled water, when you already own numerous water bottles.

I wish they had them more places.

12:46 p.m. on February 18, 2012 (EST)
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Do the stores in the GCNP provide plastic bags for purchases or only paper?

1:09 p.m. on February 18, 2012 (EST)
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I believe when I was at the Hualapai (completely Indian run) It was paper. I cannot remember being in a store when I went to the south rim.

1:58 p.m. on February 18, 2012 (EST)
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finally. too many people are just plain and simply not thoughtful.

July 26, 2014
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