Public Policy Forum Blog

The art of selling tap water

In a bid to solve some of the city's budget woes, a proposal was floated last fall to privatize the city water works. Opponents of the idea noted that privatization would likely mean higher costs to water users, which in turn caused the common council to consider keeping the water works and just raising prices themselves. They are currently studying their options. But how will they convince city water users that the higher price is worth it?

According to Governing Magazine's blog, many cities are now marketing their tap water, although not necessarily to justify higher prices. New York and San Francisco market tap water as a means to reduce bottled water consumption and "green" their cities.

But over in Europe, Venice, like Milwaukee, is struggling with budget problems. Without streets, garbage collection in Venice is quite costly, so the city is aiming to reduce bottled water usage, and the amount of garbage collected, by promoting tap water. Venetian water has been branded "Acqua Veritas," complete with fancy logo and promotional appearances by the city's mayor.

Could "L'eau Milwaukee" be the next hip drink? Imagine the advertisements covering every bus shelter: "Tom Barrett drinks Milwaukee tap water, do you?"
Anneliese Dickman