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The ban on bottled water at 23 national parks has been lifted.

August 18, 2017

The National Park Service announced on Wednesday that it will end a six-year ban against selling plastic water bottles in select parks.

Although only 23 of the National Park System’s 417 sites implemented the ban, they included some of the most prominent parks like the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Mount Rushmore.

“While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park,” the organization’s acting national director, Michael T. Reynolds, said in a statement.

The National Park Service passed the ban in 2011 due to excessive litter from plastic water bottles, however bottled sweetened drinks were not affected.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has been aggressively lobbying for the overturn of the ban over the past few years, according to Associated Press. A spokesperson for the organization praised the park’s decision to overturn the ban, calling the policy “seriously flawed.”

Last year, the National Park System told Congress that “eliminating disposable plastic water bottle sales is an optional measure for parks to accomplish their reduction goals.”

Zion National Park defended the ban, saying that since its implementation, the park “eliminated the annual sale of more than 60,000 bottles of water, which is the equivalent of 5,000 pounds of plastic not entering the waste stream.”

The rollback of the policy is effective immediately, however it’s unclear if or when the select parks will allow retailers to resume selling water bottles.

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