What does the Bundanoon community
mean by the term “Bottled Water”?
It refers to mass-marketed still water offered for commercial
sale in sealed ‘single-use’ plastic bottles. This type of beverage
has been targeted because it is already efficiently provided
through municipally plumbed drinking water systems -
better known as tap water. In the Bundanoon context “bottled
water” does not refer to ‘sparkling’ water, fruit juices, sports
How was the initiative implemented on
Bundanoon retail businesses that previously sold single-use,
bottled still water no longer stock this product in their drinks
With the assistance of advocacy group Do Something!, the
companies Street Furniture Australia and Culligan Water
kindly sponsored three filtered water ‘bubblers’ or water
stations. Two for the town and another for the town’s primary
Wingecarribee Council provided appropriate plumbing of
town water to these water stations.
The filtered water stations are prominently sign-posted, and
also incorporate taps that can be used for refilling bottles.
Bundanoon retail stores make available for sale affordable,
reusable, refillable water bottles.
Select Bundanoon retail stores have installed in-store chilled
water filters so customers can access, for nominal cost, cold
water for their reusable, refillable water bottles.
Signage indicates to retail customers where they can obtain
refillable water bottles and/or chilled and filtered municipal
Reusable drink bottled were supplied to students of the
Bundanoon Primary so they can make best used of their
filtered water bubbler
These endeavours, realised by 26 September 2009, made
Bundanoon, what we believe is Australia’s first Bottled Water
The Bundy On Tap working group think the following
sentiment (posted by a reader of ABC News Online) sums up
what is being accomplished via this initiative:
"This is a great story about a community seeing an issue
and coming together to work out a solution that they are
happy with. Getting people to community meetings is not
easy, unless people are passionate or angry. This is a
display of community support for a small action people can
control that is part of a big environmental issue - it's
They have produced a plan to implement a service - free
water refills (what a concept!) that will have environmental
benefits and through the conversation that will result their
[sic] will be community and social capital benefits too.
This isn't the silver bullet to global warming, but it is an
example of community and collective will. I bet this town
doesn't stop here - people talking, collaborating and acting
is a recipe for sustainability - watch this town over the
coming years - there are lessons for us all here."
How did the Bottled Water Free Town idea
For some years now the Bundanoon community, through the
Don’t Bore Bundanoon committee have been actively opposing
the application by a non-resident business entity, Norlex, to
commercially extract water from a bore within the Bundanoon
town precinct. The environmental, social, heritage and financial
impacts of this proposed development has brought the myriad
issues of bottled water into clearer focus for many townsfolk, not
the least being the removal of water from aquifers for
commercial gain, during one of Australia’s longest droughts.
Local businessman, Huw Kingston arrived at the notion that if
the community were against extraction of water for use in
commercial bottled water, then perhaps it should step up to the
plate, and oppose the end result of such developments — bottled
water itself. (Huw had, 17 years previous, developed a positive
retail program where a national retailer made a donation to
environmental groups when customers declined shopping bags.
Huw also runs an annual mountain bike event from Bundanoon
that is 100% Carbon Neutral, and which helps generate about
$35,000 in fundraising for local schools and organisations).
In an open letter in the community magazine, Jordan’s Crossing
Gazette, Huw Kingston proposed that the town could consider
becoming Bottled Water Free. (Click here to read the letter.)
Community and media interest was immediate and supportive.
A working group quickly formed to investigate how feasible such
a proposal might be. In throwing around ideas for a name for the
group, the town’s affectionate nickname was invoked, and Bundy
On Tap (BOT) was established.
In its research the BOT Working Group could not find any other
town that had undertaken such an initiative. It did however take
inspiration from the small Tasmanian town of Coles Bay that had
gone Plastic Bag Free in 2003. It was decided to seek advice from
Jon Dee, founder of Planet Ark, who was co-initiator of Coles Bay
going plastic bag free. Jon Dee, was now heading up the Do
Something organisation, which had as one of its projects, the
Bottled Water Alliance. Jon generously attended a meeting
organised by the BOT working group, and on experiencing the
community spirit for the project offered to assist with business
and media liaison.
The Bundy On Tap working group then set about checking that
business owners were on side. They were, and a community
meeting was subsequently organised for 8 July 2009. Notices of
the meeting were posted in around town and residents were
letterbox dropped with a flyer on the initiative. A story on the
front page of the Sydney Morning Herald on the morning of the
meeting date generated a frenzy of national and international
At the meeting itself Jon Dee presented a video of his 60 minutes
TV program on bottled water. Peter Stewart, owner of the
Bundanoon Newsagency explained that local businesses were
behind the initiative for the great good, even given the potential
loss of sales income. (Peter has estimated his own business
stands to lose $1,600 in sales of bottled still water.) A show of
hands was called to gauge support from the proposal that
Bundanoon become Australia's First Bottled Water Free Town.
The assembled crowd of well over 350 residents voted
wholeheartedly in favour of the concept. (This was the best
attended town meeting in Bundanoon history) There was one
brave dissenting voter. As well as an attempted vote by the
representative of the industry funded Bottled Water Institute,
although this was not counted, as he was not a resident of