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DC Water Boils Over Charles Schumer Position

Updated 5:48 p.m. | Sen. Charles Schumer has provoked a water war on Capitol Hill.

A recent announcement by the New York Democrat has drawn the ire of — of all people — the head of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.

Schumer announced at the beginning of this month that he would be serving water from the Saratoga Spring Water Co. at the presidential inauguration ceremonies in January. The water, which is sourced in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, is a fixture at events in upstate New York.

“Saratoga Spring water has long been one of my beverages of choice, so when given the opportunity to share its iconic blue bottle with hundreds of guests at the presidential inauguration, it was a no-brainer,” Schumer said Aug. 3.

Schumer is known as a master of helping home-state businesses, and the water choice is a case of putting his position as chairman of the committee organizing the inaugural ceremonies to good use.

The decision to opt for bottled water sparked criticism today from D.C. Water General Manager George S. Hawkins.

“We hope the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will reconsider your selection of bottled water and instead support the nation’s drinking water systems by choosing DC tap water,” Hawkins wrote in a letter to Schumer.

Hawkins calls the bottled water “costly” and “environmentally harmful.”

To assuage any doubt about the quality of the public water supply in the Capitol, Hawkins is offering free testing of any water fountains or taps, along with free water bottles for Members to fill with the D.C. tap water.

Schumer, however, may not be easily convinced.

“I can’t wait to see our guests at the inaugural luncheon and throughout the Capitol on Inauguration Day drinking America’s best water from the iconic blue Saratoga bottles,” he said after touring the Saratoga Springs bottling plant.

A senior Senate aide said D.C. tap water will be available to anyone who prefers it. Saratoga will provide sparkling water.

No word yet whether Schumer plans to serve Nathan’s Famous hot dogs from Coney Island, Buffalo wings or chicken riggies with vodka sauce from Utica.