Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

Bottled water has become popular during the past 20 years. It’s estimated that Americans drank almost 9 billion gallons of bottled water in 2007. Many people like the taste of bottled water over tap water and also feel that it is safer and better to be drinking.

The water in the US comes from surface water and groundwater. Surface water comes from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Common contaminants of surface water include runoff from highways, pesticides, animal wastes and industrial wastes. Many cities obtain their water from surface water sources. Ground water comes from underground rock formations called aquifers. People who live in rural areas generally pump groundwater from a well as their water source. Some hazardous substances leaking from waste sites, dumps, landfills and oil and gas pipelines can contaminate the groundwater as well as it having naturally occurring substances like arsenic and high levels of iron.

Water treatment plants treat an purify community water supplies usually with either chlorine or ozone which are effective in killing many contaminants. These plants also check water supplies frequently for hazardous chemicals, minerals and other contaminants. Because of the efforts in the water treatment plants, the US has one of the safest water systems in the world.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors the standards for city water systems. Although the EPA doesn’t monitor water from private wells, it publishes recommendations for owners to help maintain safe water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water. It doesn’t require that bottle water meet higher quality standards than public water. Bottled water is also taken from groundwater and surface water sources. Bottled water is treated and filtered by different methods which is why it tastes and appears different.

Even though bottled water may taste better than tap, there’s no evidence that it’s safer to drink. However, in some areas people don’t have access to safe tap water where bottled water would be a safer alternative for them. And although some brands may contain more minerals than tap water, there are no nutritional advantages over tap water.

Is it worth buying bottled water? For example… If you purchase one bottle 5 days a week, it will cost you around $1.00 which means over a course of  year you have spent over $250 and add over 250 bottles to recycling centers or landfills. Does that seem worth it to you? Also realize that the bottled water is coming exactly from the same sources as your tap water is coming from, only using different treatment methods. What do you think is the right choice here?

Source: Thompson, Janice, Melinda Manore, and Linda A. Vaughan. The Science of Nutrition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2011. Print.

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