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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 11:00 GMT
Venice's 'war' on bottled water
By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

A girl drinks bottled water. File photo
Nearly all Italians prefer bottled water to the piped stuff
The patriarch of Venice is urging Catholics in the Italian city to give up bottled water for the Christian fasting season of Lent.

Angelo Cardinal Scola wants them to donate the money saved to a water pipeline project in Thailand.

He is being backed by the mayor, who says he drinks only tap water and calls bottled water an unnecessary luxury.

Some 100,000 families can now expect to get a carafe from a local water firm to keep their tap water fridge-fresh.

Nearly all Italians drink bottled water rather than the piped stuff.

The industry is worth an estimated 3.2bn euros (2.38bn) a year to the Italian economy.

Environmentalists do not like bottled water - partly because of the impact of discarded plastic bottles, but also because of the quantity of greenhouse gases produced in its preparation.

The Venice campaign echoes that of New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Last summer he urged city residents to rely on tap water rather than expensive bottled varieties.

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