After a limited campaign by many municipal water companies and associations to marginalize bottled water in the eyes of the American consumer, exactly the opposite has happened - bottled water is more popular than ever and continues to grow in popularity.
Perhaps this is because the American consumer is really an educated consumer and for years that they have been misled about the purity of municipal tap water that is laced with contaminants and harmful chemicals and tainted with chlorine and other additives that displaced nauseating odors and taste.
One of the most popular features of bottled water is that it does not require heavy doses of chlorine and so its taste is definitely more appealing than tap water, And, if one reads the purity reports issued by municipal water suppliers and required by the Environmental Protection Agency, it becomes evident that municipal water suppliers do not have the technology to purify large scale consumption of water.
One should read the reports carefully and note the warnings about cryptosporidium, rocket fuel, people with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses and gasoline additives that remain in municipal water even after treatment and chlorination.
Bottled drinking water also contains no caffeine, no calories and no sugar and thereby competes with carbonated soft drinks that those are unhealthy in a world seeking higher health standards.
Water in bottles may seem like a reliably new idea - one born during the heightened awareness of fitness and potential water pollution during the last two or three decades but it tracks its roots to the 19th century in America. The water is also used as an ingredient in beverages, such as diluted juices or flavored bottled waters.
Water that has been treated by distillation, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of "purified water" is the best bottled water and studies show it.
Water can not be called purified "unless it is 99.9% free of any and all contaminants - a test that all municipal water and most bottled waters fail to meet.
Bottled drinking water has a valid place in the marketplace, so unless one is willing to give up all bottled beverages it looks a little hypocritical to single out water. It is so ubiquitous that people can hardly ask for water anywhere without being handed a bottle.
Water in bottles is the fastest-growing segment of the beverage industry, and the product has now passed both coffee and milk to become the second-most-consumed beverage. Water in bottles that crosses state lines is considered a food product and is overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which does mandate that it is bottled in sanitary conditions using food-grade equipment.
Once, most Americans got their water only from the tap. Pioneers trekking west across the United States during the 19th century also typically considered drinkable (potable) water a staple to be purchased in anticipation of the long trip across the arid West. But, as the population grew, industrial, natural and organic pollutants fouled the source of natural drinking water found in rivers, streams and aquifers. Development of purification techniques were unable to keep up with population and pollution growth and municipal water purity disappeared.
The municipals attempted to cover up the problem through the addition of copious amounts of chlorine and the establishment of "standards" by the EPA that allowed dangerous chemicals capable of long term damage to the human body to remain. And, the EPA testing stopped at the water treatment plant and did not consider the presence of lead, copper and other poisonous elements contained in the water pipes of houses that used tap water.
Because lead can leach from pipes as water travels from water utilities to home faucets, the EPA set an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) in tap water. This means that when lead levels are above 15 ppb in tap water that reaches home faucets, water utilities must treat the water to reduce the lead levels to below 15 ppb. Lead is particularly injurious to children at any level.
Many municipalities provide water that's discolored, chlorinated, and tastes like "pool" water. So if your tap water tastes poorly, it might be that your city's water system is strictly under funded or is controlled by a corporation, not the same corporation that makes your bottled water, but it is obvious they have the interest in controlling where and how you get your water.
Tap water also has trace chemicals (especially insecticides) that are one of the causes of nerve diseases such as fibromyalgia, which has no known cure. There is a significant contamination that water picks up in older plumbing from the source to the tap.
Beware of Bottled Tap Water
Some bottled water suppliers kindly filter and bottle tap water - contaminants and all. Filtering tap water does not completely remove chlorine. Without the label says it comes from a specific source, when the manufacturer says 'bottled at the source,' the source could be the tap. Yet sources of bottled drinking water are just as vulnerable to surface contamination as sources of tap water. One reason for the success of bottled water is that many claim not to like the taste of what comes out of the tap. But filtering out the taste of chlorine alone is not the answer.
Spring water is at best marketing hype and at worst misleading advertising.
Take for example the brand of water that is labeled "spring water" with the implication of purity that comes not from a fresh mountain spring but from deep wells in the undeniably less-picturesque Los Angeles suburbs, and one water supplier that sells water drawn from a municipal source in Corpus Christi, Texas-a far cry from the pristine glacial peaks recommended by its name and label. Even if the water does come from a spring, what's in that spring may be less safe than what comes out of your tap.
If the spring is near a cattle farm, it's going to be contaminated. One brand of "spring water," which had a graphic of mountains and a lake on the label, was actually taken from a well in Massachusetts in the parking lot of an industrial facility. That brand of Massachusetts "spring water" was so-named because the source often bubbled up to the surface in the industrial parking lot.
In a civil case against one of the largest spring water companies, the plaintiffs charged that the supplier duped consumers by advertising that their brand of spring water came from "some of the most pristine and protected sources deep in the woods". The lawsuit claimed that ever since the original spring was shut down in 1967, the company had used man-made wells, at least one of which is in a parking lot along a busy road.
Consider These Facts
To be sure, many municipal water systems have run afoul of government water quality standards - driving up demand for bottled water as a result. Americans drank 26 billion liters of bottled water in 2004, or roughly one eight-ounce glass per person every day.
Tens of millions of consumers now shun tap water and simply on bottled water exclusively. Nearly one-fifth of North Americans use bottled drinking water exclusively for their daily hydration. Canadians consume more bottled drinking water than coffee, tea, apple juice or milk.
Become an educated consumer and read the EPA reports about municipal water carefully to determine the real purity of the water. Avoid the hype and spin so often found in reports issued by government agencies.
Use municipal water to wash your car and water the lawn, but if you want to remain healthy drink purified bottled water for the highest level of purity.