Aspen to tap bottled-water market
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The thirsty will soon be able to “Enjoy our clear and clean refreshing mountain water drawn from the earth in Aspen, Colorado, USA.”
That, at least, is what it will say on bottles of Aspen purified water.
The Aspen City Council agreed Tuesday to contract with a private entrepreneur to bottle and sell Aspen water. A 20-ounce bottle will sell for a buck. The first shipment is expected to be ready in time for a July 4 launch, according to Gavin Seedorf, an intern with the city manager’s office.
Council members looked at several potential label designs before admitting they really aren’t experts in such matters. But, they generally agreed the label depicting the snow-capped Maroon Bells under a brilliant blue sky, with fall foliage in the foreground, would work just fine.
The also gave an informal nod to the terms of a contract with Paul Chichester, who will be in charge of bottling and distributing water from a city well off Mill Street.
The city will sell Chichester up to 6,000 gallons per month for two-tenths of a cent per gallon and put up $2,000 to start the venture, according to City Attorney John Worcester. The water will be trucked to Las Vegas, where it will be purified and bottled.
The contract is for three years, but Chichester will have the option to renew it for another three years if he sells at least 72,000 gallons in the first three years.
The city will retain 8 percent of the gross proceeds, which Worcester recommended be allocated to area nonprofit organizations.
Seedorf said he estimates the city will collect $4,000 from the first truckload. Much of that water will be given away as a promotion, however, so future shipments should generate more revenue for the city, he said.
Council members voiced few qualms with the plan, though Mayor Helen Klanderud quizzed Worcester on what would happen if a shipment was somehow contaminated in the process of bottling it.
“Our name will be ruined,” she said.
Though Chichester will have insurance coverage for such an event, the city would undoubtedly be sued, Worcester said.
Where the water will be available for purchase is up to Chichester, but he has been in contact with local supermarkets about carrying the Aspen brand, according to Worcester. Hotels and restaurants might also offer it, he said.
“It’s very funny,” Klanderud said. “There are a number of restaurants in town that ask if you want bottled water or Aspen water, meaning tap water. This puts a whole different spin on that.”
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