You can't bring your water bottle into the Democratic National Convention (search), and that's got a lot of people hot.

A security precaution? A mini-Watergate scandal that's really about water?

Delegates, Democratic staff members and news media arriving at the fenced-in FleetCenter site have been told by security to ditch any cans or bottles. Water is available for purchase inside the sports complex or next-door media pavilion for nearly $3 for a 16-ounce bottle.

Organizations, some with as many as 175 staffers working at the convention, have been told they can bring in large quantities of water — if they are purchased through the FleetCenter's caterer, the Well Bread Restaurant Services Group, for $60 per case. That's about 10 times the typical $5.98 retail price for a case of 24 bottles.

Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said bottles were flagged as a security threat because they could be used to bring in hazardous chemicals. Or, she said, "they could possibly be thrown or used in an improper manner."

"It's difficult to see how this is a security issue," said Jim Drinkard, chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents. "It is easier to see it as an economic issue, especially since we've experienced gouging from the beginning."

John Wentzell, general manager of the FleetCenter, denied there was any price gouging. "If anything, our operating costs are up for this event," he said.