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Northampton, Massachusetts city council to vote on ‘blue community’ motion on June 1

City Council President Bill Dwight, University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Bill Diamond, and Northampton High School student Mali Hornby-Finch have championed Northampton becoming a blue community.

Northampton is poised to become the first blue community in the United States. The city of just over 28,000 people is situated 170 kilometres west of Boston.

NBC-affiliate WWLP News reports, “City councilors approved the first step [on May 18] in a resolution for Northampton becoming the first ‘blue community’ in America. Blue communities promise to protect water as a public resource and minimize the number of bottled waters consumed in the city. ‘The idea is to change the consciousness of the community’, says Northampton city council president Bill Dwight.”

That article notes, “Dwight said the idea was inspired by Canada, which has blue communities. ‘Maybe the community will start to appreciate the water systems that we do have and the water provisions that we do have, and that’s it’s protected from being turned into a commodity by private corporations’. Those who support the idea say Northampton should do what Canada does: install enough water fountains and bottle-filling stations, put them in municipal buildings, and allow anybody to use them. Dwight says the city council hasn’t figured out yet how much that idea would cost. If Northampton becomes a ‘blue community’, businesses wouldn’t be required to sell less bottled water, but they would be encouraged to refill re-usable bottles from the tap.”

The Daily Hampshire Gazette highlights, “City Council unanimously approved a resolution on the matter on [May 18] in first reading.”

That article notes Northampton High School student supports Northampton becoming a blue community. She is fundraising to install a third bottle-filling station in her school. A counter on one of the school’s water bottle-filling stations says it has helped eliminate the waste of almost 41,000 disposable plastic bottles.

The article adds, “Proponents said the city should do as many in Canada do — make sure there are enough water fountains and water bottle-filling stations so residents can fill their own bottles during events and inside municipal buildings. The environmental club at Northampton High School has already raised over $900 [through GoFundMe and a Parent Teacher Organization grant] to erect such a station at the school. ‘Transforming Northampton into a blue community will have an impact on the future’, said Northampton High School senior Mali Hornby-Finch, a member of the environmental club.”

And ABC-affiliate WGGB reports, “Bill Diamond is part of the Unitarian Society in Northampton [as well as a member of the Unitarian Climate Action Group and a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst]. He’s tracked the European and Canadian version of blue communities from the start. Bill told Western Mass News that Northampton is ready to make the switch to blue. ‘The area around the reservoir and aquifers are ready. We have a water privatization ordinance’, said Bill.”

It adds, “If Northampton made the switch, it would make a big difference according to Bill. We use about 4-5 million single use bottles every year. And if Mali has her way, by next school year, Northampton High will be scrapping even more plastic water bottles from existence. It’ll definitely eliminate a big amount of plastic water bottles and encourage people to bring their own wherever they go, instead of buying them.”

A Western Mass News TV clip on this can be seen here. A WWLP TV clip can be watched here. Diamond’s December 2016 op-ed in the Daily Hampshire Gazette calling for the city to become a blue community can be read here.

The vote takes place on June 1.