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What’s the difference? Bottled vs Tap Water

In May 2017, Augsburg approved a new Policy on Bottled Water that aims to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions and support the provision of water as a human right and not a commodity. To support policy implementation as we #LoveLocalWater, Fall 2017 Environmental Connections (ENV 100) students created projects to address knowledge gaps, resource needs, and communications opportunities. Check back each week in January as we feature a blog series on different aspects of bottled water written by one of those project groups!

By Joshua Marose (’21)

Many people often wonder what the difference is between bottled water and tap water. It is often that they conclude that bottled water is the healthier and safer option, since the companies selling their product claim so after all. These companies give the idea that tap water is dirty and that their own bottled water is healthier and cleaner. But is it true that tap water is that unsafe?

Although many companies claim that their bottled water is from mystical springs, the truth is that often they aren’t so. Most companies get their water from normal ordinary wells and underground sources one might expect from tap water. In fact it is estimated that 25% of all bottled water is just repackaged tap water, often not even further tested.

water well pump water bottled

After the water is acquired it goes through the same regulations and testing as tap water. In fact the Food and Drug Association (FDA) adopts similar regulations for bottled water that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already uses for tap water. So in essence both bottled water and tap water are of the same safety and quality, and tap water is usually tested and monitored for safety more often than bottled water. The EPA does not regulate private wells, so water from there must be privately tested, and water can become contaminated in old pipes connecting to buildings, as we’ve seen in Flint, Michigan. So while there could be cases where bottled water is safer for individuals to drink, the majority of people in the U.S. with access to tap water have a clean, safe source of water already at hand.

water treatment plant

If you live in a city with public water systems, drinking tap water may be economically beneficial to you compared to buying bottled water. The average cost of a gallon of water in a bottle is $1.22, which is 300,000% more than if you used a gallon of tap water. Because tap water is essentially the same quality, why should we pay extra for the same product?

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/tap-vs-bottled-water/faq-20058017

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/bottled/index.html

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/truth-about-tap

https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/about-private-water-wells

Images from:

http://www.clintonhealth.org/wells/

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama/five-bids-to-build-water-treatment-plant/

Water Bottling Plant