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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 --
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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?