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The Boston Globe

Metro

Water bottle ban’s impact uncertain

Sales of bottled water at the Tedeschi store in Acton are on the rise, and the manager says it might be related to a new ­water bottle ban in neighboring Concord.

Mike Abboud, manager at the convenience store just over a mile from the Concord line, estimated that bottled water sales are up between 10 to 20 percent in the last few weeks. A single-serving bottled water ban took effect in Concord Tuesday, but Abboud said people have been talking about the ban for weeks, possibly stocking up.

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“We know there’s been an increase in people buying more water,” he said, adding that he had no proof that was why sales increased. “They’re going to get it anyway. You ban it in ­Concord, they’ll come to ­Acton.”

Other store owners in neighboring communities said it is much too soon to tell whether the ban in Concord has translated into increased sales.

Losing local dollars to shops in neighboring communities was among concerns expressed by opponents of the bottle ban, which was approved by voters last spring. Such issues are expect­ed to come up again: The community group Concord Residents for Consumer Choice collected 16 signatures from registered voters, just over the 10 required, to put a petition on April’s Town Meeting warrant to repeal the bylaw. Group cofounder Robin Garrison submitted the petition at Town Hall Wednesday.

“The funny thing is that I rarely buy bottled water; I like to refill my own water,” said Garrison. “It’s just about the right to purchase a legal and healthy product when I want. I feel like it’s a slippery slope: if they’re going to ban this, what else are they going to ban?”

Stephanie Stillman, executive director of the Concord Chamber of Commerce, said the organization has heard plenty of anxiety from local market operators. Come spring, the chamber plans to distribute free bottled water to tourists from its visitor center, as allowed under the bylaw, which bans only the sale of ­water in bottles of 1 liter or less.

Resident Jean Hill, who first proposed the ban in 2010, said she will continue to fight for it.

“There’s no reason for bottled water,’’ Hill said. “If someone needs to carry water with them, they can use a reusable bottle. If they really insist on buying it, they can go to another town.”

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com.
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