Time was, dry Evanston offered little stronger to drink than water. Leaders of the Temperance Movement urged everyone, including Evanstonians, to drink water instead of spirits.

Today we can find many additional reasons to drink water. But we suggest drinking not bottled water but the Evanston stuff – straight from the tap.

The bottled-water fad has environmental consequences: Plastic bottles tax petroleum resources, which are limited and expensive. A recent assessment by the Pacific Institute concludes “the actual amount of energy required just to manufacture the plastic bottles consumed by the United States in 2006 was the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil per year.” Transporting the bottles to market eats up additional energy.

According to the City’s most recent publication of “Highlights” (Summer 2008), only 12 percent of the 28 billion plastic water bottles purchased each year are recycled. More than 10 billion end up in landfills each year, and it takes almost a thousand years for each buried water bottle to degrade.

In the present tight economy, families would be wise to balk at paying for designer water that can cost as much as 4,000 times as much as what comes from the faucet – especially when they are already being billed for City water.

And Evanston water is healthful as well as cheap.

Unlike the water in many communities on this planet, our water is safe to drink. Not all bottled water has to pass the same tough standards that Evanston water does just to get to our homes. Nor does bottled water have the powerful cavity-fighter, fluoride.

If green – the environment or dollar – is not persuasive enough, consider taste. In a blind taste test last summer at the Farmers’ Market, Evanston water won out over several types of bottled water.

The City is encouraging Evanstonians to drink their own water. Those who prefer it portable – as well as potable – can choose to carry a reusable stainless steel container.

The Water Department has launched a Citywide campaign, “Tap Water: Good for You, Good for the Environment.” Representatives will be on hand at various community events this summer to encourage people to take the tap-water pledge.

So let’s have a toast to sustainability: one small drink for a person, one long drink for the planet.