Bottled water - Is it really better?

Bottled water - The reality... 

According to the National Water Quality Association, 56% of all people are worried about the quality of municipally treated tap water. This, along with the desire for better tasting drinking water, has fueled tremendous growth in the bottled water industry. But is bottled water really better than tap water?...

The Industry
The bottled water industry has become the target of some of the largest corporations in the world. Clorox Bleach Co., Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola are just a few of the recent entrees capitalizing on this highly lucrative market, with Clorox being the biggest participant in the bottled water business.

Millions and millions of dollars are spent each week on advertising campaigns to give the perception that these bottled waters come from some pristine mountain spring, when in reality many of them come from a municipal water system just like your tap water does. Both Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani are bottled at one of many bottling plants across America where municipal water is used as the source, as is the case with many leading brands.

The regulations that govern bottled water only require it to be "as good as" tap water. There are no assurances or requirements for bottled water to be of any higher quality than tap water, and according to some recent studies, it may often be of lower quality.

Only water that is transported across a state line is required to meet federal standards. Bottled water companies have used this loop hole to avoid complying with basic health standards, such as those that apply to municipally treated tap water. Also, all carbonated or sparkling waters are completely exempt from FDA guidelines that set specific contamination limits.

According to the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) study, "even when bottled waters are covered by FDA's specific bottled water standards, those rules are weaker in many ways than EPA rules that apply to big city tap water." For instance, if we compare EPA regulations for tap water to FDA's bottled water rules: (these examples are quotes from the NRDC's official report)

  • City tap water can have no confirmed E.coli or fecal coliform bacteria. FDA bottled water rules include no such prohibition (a certain amount of any type of coliform bacteria is allowed in bottled water).
  • City tap water, from surface water, must be filtered and disinfected. In contrast, there are no federal filtration or disinfection requirements for bottled water.
  • Most cities using surface water have had to test for Cryptosporidium or Giardia, two common water pathogens, that can cause diarrhea and other intestinal problems, yet bottled water companies do not have to do this.
  • City tap water must meet standards for certain important toxic or cancer-causing chemicals, such as phthalate (a chemical that can leach from plastic, including plastic bottles); some in the industry persuaded FDA to exempt bottled water from the regulations regarding these chemicals.
  • City water systems must issue annual "right to know" reports, telling consumers what is in their water. Bottlers successfully killed a "right to know" requirement for bottled water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council report concluded that "Therefore, while much tap water is indeed risky, having compared available data, we conclude that there is no assurance that bottled water is any safer than tap water." (The NRDC report on bottled water can be found at NRDC.Org)

So what to do? 
The reality of bottled water is that people pay from $1 to $4 a gallon for the perception of higher quality, when in fact, the quality of bottled water is at best "unknown"! We have no way of knowing the actual quality of bottled water. Point-of-Use water treatment, with a quality in home water filtration system, is by far the most economical, the most convenient and the most capable of producing the highest quality, healthy water.

Removing the chlorine and other contaminants at the point of use, just prior to consumption, in your own home, with a system that is documented to produce "healthy water"... just makes more sense. With a home water filter you can have guaranteed quality for about .10 a gallon vs. $1 to $4 a gallon for bottled. Like the saying say... "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself", and that's certainly the case when it comes to something as important as our drinking water".