Posted by: rainworks | January 6, 2011

Rainwater and Tap Water, better than Bottled Water?

Best and worst bottled water brands

By Lori Bongiorno

Best and worst bottled water(Photo: B2M Productions / Getty Images)

How much do you know about the bottled water you drink? Not nearly enough, according to a new report released today from Environmental Working Group (EWG). “Bottled water companies try hard to hide information you might find troubling,” says Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research for the Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy group.

EWG analyzed the labels of 173 unique bottled water products and company websites to determine if companies disclose information on where water comes from, how or if their water is treated, and whether the results of purity testing are revealed. The nonprofit also looked at how effective (and advanced) any water treatment methods are. Researchers followed up by calling dozens of bottled water companies to find out which ones willingly tell consumers what’s in their bottles.

The Environmental Protection Agency says on its website that consumers have the right to know where their water comes from and what’s in it so they can “make informed choices that affect the health of themselves and their families.” Tap water is regularly tested and consumers can find their local water info online. That’s not necessarily the case with bottled water, which is not required to disclose that information to consumers. “Bottled water is a food product and every one of these companies is complying with federal law,” says Tom Lauria, of the International Bottled Water Association.  

More than half of the bottled water products surveyed failed EWG’s transparency test –18 percent didn’t say where their water comes from, and another 32 percent did not disclose any information on treatment or purity of water.

Only three brands earned the highest possible marks for disclosing information and using the most advanced treatment methods available – Gerber Pure Purified Water, Nestle Pure Life Purified Water, and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.

On the other end of the spectrum, these six brands got the worst marks in EWG’s report because they don’t provide consumers with the three basic facts about water on product labels or their company website – Whole Foods Italian Still Mineral Water, Vintage Natural Spring Water, Sahara Premium Drinking Water, O Water Sport Electrolyte Enhanced Purified Drinking Water, Market Basket Natural Spring Water, and Cumby’s Spring Water.

How does your bottled water brand stack up? Here’s a look at the 10 top-selling* U.S. brands:

1.     Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle), EWG grade = B

2.     Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = C

3.     Aquafina Purified Drinking Water (Pepsi), EWG grade = D

4.     Dasani Purified Water (Coca-Cola), EWG grade = D

5.     Deer Park Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

6.     Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

7.     Ozarka Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

8.     Poland Spring Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

9.     Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

10.  Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water (CG Roxane), EWG grade =  F

Filtered tap water received the best grade (an A) from EWG because if you change your filter regularly, EWG says it is purer than bottled water, plus it saves money (bottled water can cost up to 1,900 times more than what flows from your tap). Drinking tap water also takes less of a toll on the planet. EWG offers plenty of tips for filtering your tap water so that you can drink the healthiest water possible.

What should you do when bottled water is your only option? “While our top choice is filtered tap water, when you do need to choose bottled water, we recommend brands that tell you what’s in the water and that use advanced treatment technologies like reverse osmosis and micro-filtration,” says Houlihan. Advanced treatment technologies remove pollutants that other methods don’t. You should look for bottled water products that tell you where the water is coming from and how pure it is.

Here are the results for all 173 bottled water brands included in the report. You’ll find that some less popular brands rank even lower than our list of top-sellers.

The advice to drink filtered tap water can seem confusing when there are often reports about the contaminants found in municipal water supplies. Just last month, for example, EWG announced that cancer causing hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) is in 31 cities’ tap water. Houlihan says chromium-6 is as likely to be in your bottled water as it is in your tap water and we need action from the federal government on this. She points out that a reverse osmosis filter can remove the worrisome contaminant. You can guarantee its removal in your home supply, but in many cases you don’t know what’s in the bottle you’re drinking from.

*Sales rankings from the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green’s users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.

Note from the Blogger:

Bottled water serves several primarily purposes; for transport, emergencies, and storage.  Other than that, there are commercial purposes, which are only for market share.  There is so much profit in commercial bottled water processing and packaging that in 30 years, supermarket isles are solely set aside just for this purpose and globally, and a multitude of companies compete for the space.  Why, because we do have a water crisis on this planet.  We have not managed this sustainable resource, but only exploited water needs on a global scale. Why do we allow community growth with, elaborate infrastructure construction, developments, etc. to go on without a sustainable thought process?  If one needs drinking water; carry a non-disposable canteen (water bottle).  Use filtered tap water. Oh, wait a minute; isn’t the governments tap water so expensively processed that it should not need filtered?  Processing of river, reservoir, and well water is expensive for communities, actually it could be considered as recycled water.  As well it is energy inefficient, causes pollution, and creates landfill expansion.  Maybe it’s time we return to recycling at a nickel a bottle (many states do, which many manufacturing jobs, as well as in the service industry).  I have lived in Washington DC on a four-lane street (Maryland Ave), and those of us that do have our FREE government-recycling bin street side one day a week to be picked up, it never gets picked up for months at a time and only after several phone calls, LAZY I say! Of course some of the neighbors just don’t give a damn, and do not use such a container.  Although the DC government enacted a nickel per plastic grocery bag to save our district rivers, they are not even concerned about plastic bottles, liquor and beer bottles, cluttering our sidewalks and entering our rivers ……………..

Also we should consider the Top Down Water resource:

Certain States and Communities in the USA offer homeowners either tax incentives or even flat-out grants for homeowners to implement a Rain Water Harvesting system, which includes the purchase of a 1500-3000 gallon cistern, (this is beyond simple rain barrels).  In addition, some States offer local industries up to $40,000.00 for Rain Water Harvesting to reduce the use of Municipal drinking water infrastructures.

A possible solution would be to use the grant money as a pre-emptive strike to the sinkhole problem by implementing Rain Water Capture for the individual homeowner’s clean water supply, which then discharges the used water into the water table (irrigation, etc) for reuse by the agricultural concerns and municipal water systems (RECYCLING).  Again, a Real Top Down scenario: From the Heavens to the Rooftop, to the Capture Infrastructure, to the Cistern, to the User, and finally to the Earth’s natural filtration system.  Note; in much of Florida due to the sandy soils, homes do not have basements, much less rain gutters, because when the rain falls off the roof, most of it goes directly into the water table and then into an aquifer.

A similar Real Top Down scenario could be used by the local farming communities; Install retention ponds (reservoirs), or even underground storage tank systems.  Although Florida due to its sandy soils would require the installation of a pond liner, a pond (or ponds) would be the farmer’s solution during dry spells and freezing weather, and be available for many years to come.

Keep in mind; many private public municipal water authorities utilize a maze of reservoirs to supply communities and industries with drinking water.

Also keep in mind; the Insurance Industry would not need to add exception clauses to your policy.  If anything, you should get a rebate as a fire protection exception, as an added water resource, in place of a Fire Department tanker truck.

This homeowner resource could also be used for lawn and landscape sprinkling as well as car washing with real natural Soft water!


Responses

  1. First of all, tap water contains residuals of chlorine which have been known to cause stomach and colon cancer. Second of all, the chlorine which is used to treat tap water would not kill bacteria such as cryptosporidium. Third, most bottled water companies use micro-filtration to eliminate contaminents and ozonation to eliminate all bacteria, including cryptosporidium. Fourth, you actually need a carbon filter to remove any chlorine. Fifth, if you use an R.O. system it also eliminates all the minerals in the water eliminating the option for those which would prefer a natural mineral spring water. In addition, if a bottled water company is certified by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) and members of the IBWA (International Bottled Water Association), their guidelines are often stricter than those of the FDA.

    • Agreed, however there is a tremendous concern of the petroleum based plastic bottles (and Grocery bags) littering our parks, neighborhoods, rivers, lakes and streams. Second of all, the energy costs associated with manufacturing, delivery, warehousing of bottled water is astronomical, the waste is equally astronomical. Although profitable for some, and convenient for others, I have occasionally used bottled water only due to convenience.
      The most efficient, and at very low cost, would be to use Harvested Rain Water from your Tap. This is the only Sustainable Solution for the planet. It does not add chlorine and other chemicals used for treatment of contaminated ground water. It does not require RO, and generally does not have earth elements associated with reservoirs, rivers, and wells (lead, arsenic, etc). Actually, one would start with some of the cleanest and softest water to begin with. With the proper RWH infrastructure, the 1st Wash-Off system results in a secondary filtering process prior to actual water capture, with a 1st stage filtering mechanism, and then to the cistern. Submersible LED UV lighting could be placed in the cistern to kill off harmful pathogens, or adapted to the POU output prior to your Tap. No water softener required. You become your own Water Authority. Testing labs abound here in the USA, allowing one to adhere to and go beyond the various government and WHO certifications.
      To develop local RWH programs would provide shovel ready JOBs, where they are needed most across this country; Locally! We are the one nation behind most others globally in this crisis.


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