Bottled water has become so popular today that it sometimes takes up a whole aisle in a supermarket; this was unheard of 20-30 years ago. In the beginning bottled water came from clean natural resources, however access to those resources have dwindled to a point that it became more cost effective to commercially process existing community water supplies and bottle it. Wait a minute; isn’t the existing tap water supposed to be totally potable? Certainly much of the bacteria/pathogens have been killed off by adding chlorine into the municipal water systems and private public water systems. But it is well known with many urban/suburban water systems contain many corrosive minerals destroying our household plumbing fixtures, and so; what does it do to our bodies and our health?
According to a four-year study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) one-third of the bottled water tested contained levels of contamination which exceeds allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines.
In addition to the misconception about health benefits, there are other, more serious, problems associated with the production and consumption of bottled water. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans bought a total of 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006. The Pacific Institute estimates that producing the bottles for American consumption required more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation. Bottling the water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. It took 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
Don’t get me wrong here, compared to the massive amounts of bottled water on store shelves is just not necessary, though some of that bottled water is useful for such things as; travel to remote places, recreational rehydration, storage for emergency purposes, etc. However, many times it would be more appropriate to use filtered tap water, especially if it were rain water to begin with.
People’s consciousness about water quality was raised recently due to several widely reported incidents of public drinking water endangering health and even causing death. A 1993 outbreak of cryptosporidium parvum or crypto in Milwaukee sickened 403,000 Milwaukee residents, about half the city’s population, and left more than 100 people dead.
In Las Vegas crypto contributed to the deaths of 19 AIDS patients in 1994, although the virus was never detected in the city’s water supply. That AIDS patients on bottled water did not get the virus was a critical clue determining that crypto did, in fact, come from drinking water.
Crypto is an elusive parasite that cattle and other animals excrete into watersheds and is found in up to 87 percent of untreated water supplies. Rain runoff carries the parasite to surface water supplies. Chuck Gerba of the University of Arizona’s Department of Soil and Water Science estimates that crypto is in about one-third of the country’s finished drinking water supplies.
Only 3-4% of the water that is processed by a municipal water system or private public water systems is used for drinking water, all the rest is still treated the same way which uses a lot of energy and other infrastructure costs. Still that same drinking water quality is used for irrigation, industrial water needs, etc.
Bottled Beverages Concern
It should be noted that many communities in the USA are banning commercial bottled water due to many concerns. One of the concerns of course is the abundance of discarded plastic bottles that require larger landfills, associated infrastructure and services. In many locations bottled water is more expensive than bottled beer or soda, and to think; making beer or soda requires a tremendous amount of raw water for production which does not even include the water in that drink. That production water becomes waste and enters our storm sewers.
Thankfully there are some beverage plants that are converting to the use of rain water, and water recycling practices, a step in the right direction. It is also known that some communities outright prohibit ALL beverage production facilities from even being started within that community due to the STRESS on existing water supplies.
Getting your recommended eight glasses of water a day by bottle instead of tap is a huge waste of cash, says Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru. That buck-a-bottle water you down on a regular basis can really add up. (Even more so now that cities like Chicago collect an additional tax of five cents per bottle.)
Potential Savings: Spend $37 to buy a 40-ounce Brita pitcher and filter ($13 at Bed, Bath and Beyond), plus a four-pack of replacement filters ($24), and you’ll be able to filter 200 gallons of water. Buy that much water in 24-packs of 16.9-ounce Aquafina bottles at Shop Rite instead, and you’d spend $283.50. Your total savings: $246.50.