Times are tough at the University of California, the New York Times reports. The state’s budget crisis has led to cuts, layoffs and higher student fees. It is enough to drive someone to drink–as long as it’s not plain old tap water. Even though money is tight, the university has spent about $2 million in recent years on brand name, commercially produced and delivered bottled water to campuses in San Francisco and Berkeley. With both cities boasting some of the nation’s highest-quality drinking water, critics see bottled water as a questionable expense that is bad for the environment. “Bottled water is, largely, an unnecessary waste of money,” Peter H. Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland and a MacArthur genius fellowship recipient for his work on water issues, wrote via eMail from Alexandria, Egypt, where he was attending a conference on water sustainability. “But there are also substantial environmental, social and political costs not captured in the price alone…”

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staff and wire services reports