I-Team: State spends more than 800K a year on bottled water

State spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on bottled water

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s your money and the state government is spending it. The 22News I-Team reveals how much the state spends on an item that the average Joe has to buy.

That item is bottled water and our state government continues to spend your taxpayer dollars on it.

Drinking water flows out of the faucet or the fountain, but if you prefer bottled water, you likely have to take some money out of your pocket to buy it. The 22News I-Team discovered that the Massachusetts state government is taking money out of your pocket to buy it for themselves.

The state government spent $814,753 on bottled water last fiscal year.  In the past five years, the government has spent more than $3.6 million of your taxpayer dollars on bottled water according to the state’s open checkbook website.

“It’s wasteful,” said State Representative Tom Sannicandro (D) Ashland. Rep. Sannicandro filed a bill last year to ban any government agency from providing bottled water, but never provided any testimony for his own bill.

“I suspect at least we offered written testimony so there’s probably written testimony somewhere, we can provide it for you if you want”, said Rep. Sannicandro.

The I-Team checked again with his office and the committee that receives testimony and there wasn’t any. Rep. Sannicandro’s Communications Director told the I-Team it was his mistake and an accidental oversight that the testimony was not submitted.

Six states; Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Maryland, Illinois and Colorado have already significantly cut government spending on bottled water. Connecticut cut its bottled water spending from $500,000 a year to less than $50,000.

“Basically it was an enforcement issue”, said Connecticut State Representative David Kiner (D) East Windsor, Enfield.

Rep.  Kiner told the I-Team they didn’t need a new law, they just had to enforce a policy already on the books. Providing bottled water only when tap water is unavailable or not safe to drink. Meghan Kelly, Deputy Communications Director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance told the 22News I-Team Massachusetts does not have a policy prohibiting state departments from using bottled water.

(In Massachusetts when you hear that they’re spending $800,000 a year do you think that’s a little wasteful?) “That is wasteful, not only is government spending money on providing that clean water, now they’re spending that money twice by purchasing bottled water.

As for the Massachusetts bill Rep. Sannicandro filed, it is currently in a study, but he even admits it’s likely dead. “I think it’s doubtful at this point”, said Rep. Sannicandro.

On Friday at the State Office Building in Springfield, there will be a vote to eliminate buying bottled water and adding a filtration system to the entire building using city water.

2014 Fiscal Year Massachusetts spending on bottled water by state department:

  • Health & Human Services: $268,691
  • Public Safety: $185,416
  • Independent Agencies: $119,499
  • Administration & Finance: $62,451
  • Transportation: $50,219
  • Energy & Environmental Affairs: $42,453
  • Labor and Workforce Development: $36,028
  • Legislature: $24,973
  • Housing and Economic Development: $13,624
  • Education: $10,291
  • Judiciary: $1108

2014 Fiscal Year Massachusetts accounts payable to bottled water vendors (more than $5000):

  • Nestle Waters North America Inc, Poland Spring Water Co: $477,584
  • Atlas Water Systems Inc.: $132,439
  • DS Waters of America, Inc.: $102,136
  • DS Services of America, Inc.: $63,861
  • Poland Spring Water, The Perrier Group of America: $26,835

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