BOSTON (CBS) — The state of Massachusetts is spending hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars on bottled water for lawmakers and state workers.

It’s important to stay hydrated, but is the cost of all that water getting out of hand?

“I think the Commonwealth was on track to spend a million dollars for bottled water across the system,” says State Rep. Chris Walsh (D-Framingham). “That’s a lot of bottled water.”

And a lot of taxpayer money being spent on a commodity we already pay more than $700 million a year for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to produce. The water they send out to the State House and dozens of communities across the state is rated among the best in the nation.

So with more and more people saving money and curbing environmental waste by carrying reusable water bottles, you wonder – why can’t state workers do the same?

“We have got to start cleaning up this situation,” says Walsh, who has filed a bill to ban the use of state tax dollars to buy bottled water except in emergency situations.

Thirty years ago they had plenty of water fountains up at the State House, but they took them out over concerns about water quality. The quality of the water has improved, but with the exception of a lone bubbler in the basement, Beacon Hill hasn’t changed.

The water fountain in the State House basement. (WBZ-TV)

Walsh suggests it would be cheaper in the long run to pay for bubblers to be reinstalled there and it would set a positive example.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo tells WBZ-TV he agrees the bottled water spending seems excessive, and also praised the quality of MWRA tap water, which is treated at the Deer Island plant in his district.

So we asked him:

“Would it be too much to ask the members to take a little bit of that pay raise they got and go out and buy their own water?”

DeLeo chuckled and said: “I think we’ll leave it at the fact we’ll take a look at the issue.”

  1. “Take a look at the issue” generally means a referral to a committee to study it where it languishes until the next time the “issue” is brought up, at which point, the new submission to a committee replaces the former one, and the former one is shredded so that there is no evidence that would incriminate “the committee” for having done nothing.