Posted by: hepowers | October 4, 2010

Drinking Hamilton’s Tap Water

Recently here in Hamilton, there are large billboards encouraging people to drink tap water.  My household already consumes a lot but I’ve been wondering about the reason for this public relations campaign. Here’s what I found out.

The billboards are produced by the City of Hamilton and began to appear in June 2010 to implement a directive of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This news release from the Federation provides greater detail but essentially, the directive was two fold:

1) Reduce the amount of bottled water in municipal facilities and,

2) Develop awareness campaigns about the benefits and quality of municipal water supply systems.

A web address on the billboards takes you to Hamilton’s Public Works Department with useful information on their own initiatives and related organizations. Another click on this page takes you to a detailed explanation of the billboard campaign.

The billboard design is quite eye-catching with large, bright photos of individuals and huge captions declaring “I Drink Hamilton Tap Water.” Apparently these are all Hamilton residents who volunteered for the job. I think my favourite is the leather clad biker dude!

The text is minimal, making it easy to focus on. And the message “Tested 47,000 times in 2009” is to the point.

Britta has also been promoting the use of tap water vs. bottled water through various media. Britta’s research explains one of their pitchers can replace up to 300, 16.9 ounce water bottles. While Britta will gain profits from this, reducing the world’s plastic is a good thing for everyone.

Kudos to the City of Hamilton for this socially responsible campaign. Cheers!



  1. Hi Helen,
    I was wondering what the motivation was behind the posters. Thanks for sharing this.
    I am a proud drinker of Hamilton water, too.
    Good to see the reminder to everyone.
    Take care,

  2. I was wondering how much this advertising campaign costs. Anyone know the total annual dollar figure?

    • That’s a really good question – I’ll see what I can find out and report back….

      • Interesting that Hamilton is paying for ads to promote tap water and stripping its civic buildings of public taps. I noticed this recently at Hamilton Place where you now have to pay $2.50 for a bottle of water if you’re thirsty at a concert. But according to a Spec writer it’s happening all over:–we-re-all-wet-when-it-comes-to-water

  3. Thanks for sharing this Hamilton Spectator article. It appears a promotion opportunity was missed by reducing the number of public taps. No word yet on the cost of this campaign but I’ll keep you posted.

    • This morning’s Hamilton Spectator has a follow-up article which is not yet available on-line but when it is, I’ll post a link. Author Paul Wilson says the City’s campaign cost $25,000 and it included free handouts of stainless steel bottles with this message: ‘Fill this bottle 20 times at the kitchen tap for a penny.’ Currently under study by the city is the issue of water fountains in city facilities.

      Wilson reports that he visited Burlington’s city hall where he found 16 water fountains, 10 of which are public. They have been specially outfitted with nozzles for re-filling water bottles. These fountain units cost $2300 each and provide filtered water.

      Hopefully Hamilton council will soon see the need to ‘walk the talk’ with accessible tap water in public places. Or would that be ‘drink the talk?’

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