Wheeler’s water decision brings rival firm to a boil | AspenTimes.com

Wheeler’s water decision brings rival firm to a boil

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen Pure wants to know why the Wheeler Opera House is selling bottled water from Fiji instead of the brand that touts the Aspen name.

“Our water is native to the state of Colorado,” said Jerry Bovino, chairman of the board for Aspen Pure, making his case before the City Council on Monday. “We believe Aspen Pure water is the logical choice for the Wheeler Opera House.

“Helen Keller, working the night shift in a coal mine, could see the synergies.”

Aspen Pure, which began production earlier this year with water bottled in Alamosa, submitted a bid to provide bottled water to the Wheeler. Local investors started the company.

Fiji, which has been the supplier of water at the Wheeler, also submitted a bid, as did Coca-Cola, which bottles Dasani water, according to Rebecca Hodgson, the city’s procurement officer.

The Wheeler chose Fiji, and Bovino has contested that decision, Hodgson said. She declined to release information about any of the bids while the city investigates the process that led to the selection of Fiji, bottled in the Fiji Islands of the South Pacific. Fiji has administrative offices in Basalt.

Ultimately, City Manager Steve Barwick will settle the dispute, Hodgson said.

Aspen Pure, with its picture of the Maroon Bells on the label, is the obvious choice for the Wheeler, according to Bovino.

“We felt it was inappropriate on its surface to have the signature water of Aspen be promoting tropical vacations,” he said. “We’re a mountain ski resort.”

What’s more, Bovino noted, it’s more environmentally friendly to sell bottles of water from Colorado’s San Luis Valley than from half a world away.

“We make a big deal in Aspen of being a green community,” he said.

Bovino said Aspen Pure offered to provide free water for all charitable events at the Wheeler and spent $40,000 to begin production of 16-ounce bottles because that’s what the opera house wanted. Previously, Aspen Pure had only offered 24-ounce and one-liter bottles.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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