Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paris offers water with bubbles, but no bottles

In the latest in a series of unusual efforts to make Paris green, the city is now offering residents free sparkling water to try to wean Parisians not from red wine, but from over consumption of plastic bottles.Inaugurated on Tuesday by Eau de Paris, the public water company, "la pétillante" -- "the bubbly" -- is a water fountain installed in a wooden hut of the Jardin de Reuilly, in eastern Paris, that delivers sparkling water."We chill the water between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius," said Philippe Burguière, the spokesman for Eau de Paris, "and then we inject carbon dioxide into regular tap water to make the bubbles thin and tasty." Those temperatures translate to 42.8 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit.The new water fountain is part of an operation "aimed at promoting tap water in a country where we invest a lot to preserve its quality," Burguière added.
The fountain is connected to the public water system and uses six taps to provide both sparkling and flat water.The idea was conceived in Italy and grew very popular there, Burguière said.Italians, who are known as the world's biggest consumers of sparkling water, have installed 215 fountains of the same type in the country's northern regions.Each of them provided an average of more than 920 gallons a day, "of which half is sparkling water, so it means saving 2,300 plastic bottles of 1.5 liters each a day," Eau de Paris said in a news release."In France, it's only an experiment," Burguière said, "but we will see how people react to it, and we'll try to put water fountains in other parks."The French consume about 40 gallons of bottled water per person each year, one of the highest per capita amounts not only in Europe, but also in the world.