Dry conditions not an issue yet for JUST Water

An interactive map on the Portland Press Herald website shows in weekly time-lapse the spread of dro
An image of  JUST Water from the company's Facebook page.
An image of JUST Water from the company's Facebook page.

An interactive map on the Portland Press Herald website shows in weekly time-lapse the spread of drought conditions in the Northeast.

From May to September, licks of pink explode into shades of red that deepen as conditions worsen from “abnormally dry” to “moderate,” “severe” and “extreme” drought.

The map is offered as related reading to a story on how deteriorating conditions in Maine led bottler Poland Spring to limit the water draw at some of its springs, taking more from others in less-affected parts of the state.

New York is depicted in the time-lapse, too, with a deep red oval forming between the Finger Lakes and Rochester. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a joint university-government effort and source of the Press Herald map, the color portrays “extreme” drought.

Although our area of the state is designated “abnormally dry,” it got me wondering about another bottler, newbie JUST Water in Glens Falls, which kicked off operations a year ago.

JUST draws its water from an aquifer in the Glens Falls watershed off West Mountain Road near Northway Exit 20 in Queensbury, trucking it to a former church turned bottling plant in the city.

JUST’s water goes into recyclable paper containers — similar to slender quart milk cartons. The packaging, made of 82 percent renewable resources, is part of the mission “to create socially and environmentally impactful products at an accessible price.”

Last year, JUST drew 276,000 gallons of spring water from the watershed, paying Glens Falls $60,000 for it. That will be the annual bill until the draw reaches 1 million gallons, at which point JUST will pay a penny for each additional gallon taken.

The contract allows for up to 25 million gallons annually — at a price of some $297,000 — but JUST is a long way from needing that.

Jim Siplon, chief operating officer, says production is “up significantly” this year, but that “that 25 million-gallon figure is not in the forecast for 2016 — though we are in heavy growth mode and seeing more and more demand.”

JUST’s baby-blue cartons can be found in all 50 states and Canada in more than 13,000 retail outlets, including grocers Whole Foods, Kroger and Hannaford. Siplon declined to reveal production figures, citing competitive reasons.

[In Glens Falls, finding revenue in bottled water]

As to any drought concerns, he pointed to a water usage report prepared in April by a Clifton Park consultant that indicated the Glens Falls reservoir contains hundreds of millions of gallons of water not used by the city, with JUST’s 2015 extraction representing less than 0.04 percent of that excess.

The report, using historical precipitation totals dating to 1948, noted the watershed could meet Glens Falls’ future needs while also allowing JUST to draw its target 25 million gallons annually.

If worsening conditions ever led to water restrictions, Siplon said, they would apply to JUST, too. “We won’t be treated differently than any other water user.”

Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]

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