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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 11:38 GMT
Fiji Water's response
Fiji Water has responded to a number of statements made by Panorama.

Panorama: Transport is responsible for a sizable chunk of Fiji water's environmental impact.

Fiji Water: Transportation is just one part of our overall carbon footprint which we have committed to reducing actual carbon emissions by 25% by 2010, and offsetting by 120% this year.

Over 99% of the distance travelled by our product en route to accounts in the UK takes place on large, efficient ocean vessels that were scheduled to make that voyage with or without us on board.

Packaging is usually a larger contributor to emissions than shipping, and any European (including UK) water bottled in glass will have a higher carbon footprint than Fiji Water in the UK.

Panorama: While bottled Fiji water flows to the UK, one third of Fijians don't have safe tap water. It's something the UN says is a basic human right but its delivery is not down to bottled water companies, it's down to the government. Panorama met people in Fiji who have been hospitalised with typhoid.

Fiji Water: In Fiji, we have been working with the Pacific Water for Life Foundation to fund water projects in over 100 local communities each year. Many of the typhoid cases that happen in Fiji occurred after severe flooding took place following a cyclone.

Safe drinking water is just one part of the equation, developing proper sanitation infrastructure is critically important as well.

Fiji Water provides thousands of cases of water a year to local villages in Fiji who have been hit by cyclones or flash flooding to provide immediate access to clean, safe water.

The real irony is that you suggest that exporting water somehow reduces access to this precious resource, when in fact our export revenue is paying for the expansion of water access at a pace that Fiji's government has never achieved. What if we didn't bottle the water?

The underground flow would simply run into the ocean and fewer people in Fiji would benefit from access to clean, safe water.

Panorama: The source that Fiji Water uses was originally discovered with some British Aid money as part of a plan to find water for local people.

Fiji Water: We do not agree with your assertion that the bore hole was drilled with the single ambition of supplying local people with safe water.

It would have been an enormous undertaking to build out a public water supply. We are not aware of any plans that were drawn up to map out the infrastructure for a public water supply.

Nor were there any plans on where the millions of dollars would have come from to build this infrastructure. Also, it would be nearly impossible to build a water infrastructure system without access to the electricity needed to power pumping stations.

Panorama: An interviewee, from the Fiji Government's Mineral Resources Department, tells the programme he is seeking talks with Fiji Water to discuss the increasing amounts of water being taken from the aquifer and his concerns about its effects on the local water table.

Fiji Water: We have never been contacted by anyone at the Mineral Resources Department requesting any meetings about our aquifer and we would welcome any meeting to discuss the science of our aquifer with qualified hydro-geologists. The very livelihood of our company relies on the health and well-being of our source aquifer and the surrounding environment.

The water is harvested to ensure that both the aquifer and Fiji Water as a company are sustainable. The aquifer is constantly replenished by rainfall. As part of our production standard, we ensure that we draw water at a rate well within the limits of the rainfall replenishment rate.

Our plant has been assessed and certified as meeting the requirements of AS/NZS ISO 14001:1996, an internationally recognized certification for the production of bottles and bottling of natural artesian water. As such, it meets the highest international standards for minimizing harmful effects on the environment and achieving continual improvement of its environmental performance.

Fiji Water has also conducted hydro-geological studies to ensure that it is preserving the sustainability of its source aquifer.

Bottled Water: Who Needs It?
18 Feb 08 |  Panorama

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