All Wet

Aspen gets soaked in a battle over bottled water.

Aspen Pure CEO Friedland has opted to take the high road in the controversy. No, he says, he doesn't feel betrayed by Aspen's snubbing of Aspen Pure. "I was a little disappointed," he says, "but they have the right to make their own decision."

As for the charge of "exploiting" Alamosa, Friedland responds, "The water we're using is equal to or less than the water that would otherwise be used to irrigate the fields for farming."

Although the company doesn't own the bottling operation, its contract has created jobs in Alamosa, he adds: "We're providing jobs for people who have families, jobs that people want, in a clean, healthy, aesthetically pleasing environment."

Friedland also notes that every bottle of Aspen Pure carries the message "Please Recycle." "You can't force someone to recycle, obviously," he says. "But if you don't use plastic -- that argument taken to its extreme -- you might as well not go to the grocery store. People don't carry around glass bottles for a lot of reasons. PET has become the desired container of the 21st century. The alternative is to tell everyone to drink tap water."

Tap water fared well in a blind taste test utilizing the jaded palates of a group of Westwordstaffers. Participants preferred Aspen Pure over Fiji by a three-to-one margin, but a significant minority -- 30 percent -- preferred Denver tap water to both of the premium brands.

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