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Bottled Water or Filtered Water


Bottled WaterThe pictures on bottled water of crystal-clear mountain springs, glaciers, and pristine landscapes must help sell water. The average American drinks more than 24 gallons of it each year.

That is more than milk, coffee, or beer. In fact, only pop is consumed more than bottled water.

Want some solid reasons to kick the bottle habit? We've rounded up eight to get you started.

Its sales more than doubled in the U.S. during the past decade, now totaling nearly $15 billion last year! That amount would provide clean drinking water to the entire world.

We’ve gotten into the habit of paying good money for a product we’ve always had for much cheaper. Many people are suspicious of tap water and buy bottled because they think it’s more natural, purer, more healthful, and better tasting. But the facts usually prove otherwise.

Bursting the Bubble

But look beyond the pictures and names. A picture of a glacier on the bottle doesn’t mean it comes from a glacial source, or a picture of a mountain doesn't mean it came from a mountain spring.

Fact is most of the water in those bottles comes from a municipal water supply.
The same water coming out of your tap!

Even when it is not tap water, the rules are loose enough that "spring" water may actually come from wells or aquifers. Some do come from mountain springs or glacial sources, but they are a minority.

Tap water is strictly regulated by the EPA and monitored by municipal suppliers. Bottled is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only if it is shipped across state lines or imported.

In some ways the FDA standards are weaker than the EPA’s, and its testing far less frequent. Most is packaged and sold within one state, so it’s subject only to state regulation, which varies greatly—and in some states does not exist.

The FDA classifies the water according to its origin.

Artesian well water. Water from a well that taps an aquifer--layers of porous rock, sand and earth that contain water--which is under pressure from surrounding upper layers of rock or clay. When tapped, the pressure in the aquifer pushes the water above the level of the aquifer, sometimes to the surface.

Mineral water. Water from an underground source that contains at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids. Minerals and trace elements must come from the source of the underground water. They cannot be added later.

Spring water. Derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the earth's surface. Spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring.

Well water. Water from a hole bored or drilled into the ground, which taps into an aquifer.

What Research has Found

Several studies found that most bottled water is of high quality but some where out of line with the strict standards for tap water. A few years ago, a study comparing bottled waters with tap water from Cleveland found that one-quarter, 25%, of the bottled had significantly higher bacterial counts than tap water.

This is not to say that the water contained enough bacteria to cause someone to become ill, but it does raise a red flag—and these findings certainly dispel the myth that bottled water is safer than tap water.

A March 1999 Natural Resources Defense Council report testing more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination -- including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic -- in at least one sample that exceeded allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines.

Read the Summary Findings of NRDC's 1999 Bottled Water Report and see for yourself what they found.

How Much is Bottled Water Costing Me?

If you bought a 20-ounce water for a dollar, you’d be paying nearly $6 per gallon. You can lower the price by buy the water buy the case to between $1.00 to $1.50 a gallon.

Yes, water is essential, but the bottle isn’t. I pay .007 cents (less than a penny) per gallon from my tap in Metro Detroit. I just put it in a bottle that I can clean properly and reuse.

The choice seems clear. You can pay up to $6.00 per gallon at the store or pay less than a penny per gallon in your home. Regardless of how much water you drink, switching from bottled to tap would save you a handful.

When Bottled a Good Idea?

Water Bottle In some places and times, bottled water is safer than tap. In the developing countries where the water supply is risky, for example.

Moreover, millions of Americans get their water from unregulated private wells, which are more likely to be contaminated. And on rare occasions that your water from a public utility may temporarily becomes unsafe the utility must by law notify consumers and tell them what to do. (This may happen after flooding, or repair to a water line.)

If your tap water is contaminated, however, your best long-term option is to filter it. It's more convenient and much cheaper than bottled. The same is true if you know your water is high in lead (from plumbing pipes) or if your tap water simply has an off flavor or smell.

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