Last year, consumers in the U.S. bought 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water, according to the International Bottled Water Association. You may have drunk some of that water yourself. But did you ever wonder if tap water and bottled water are really that different?
Water is water, right? However, there are major differences between bottled water and tap water, from price to regulating quality of water. As far as the law is concerned, water in bottles and water coming out of your faucet are regulated by different government agencies.
Water from the tap is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, along with state and local governments. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The significant difference between the two regulations is merely the fact that the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose the source of the water on the label. With tap water, the EPA requires that municipalities publish an annual consumer confidence report disclosing not only the source of the water, but also information on test results and the treatment process. The bottled water industry could face similar regulations in the near future.
Over the past 10 years, the amount of bottled water bought in the U.S. has tripled, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Convenience and quality are two of the top reasons to purchase bottled water. Consumers of bottled water prefer spending the extra money for the satisfaction of knowing chlorine and fluoride have not been added to the beverage. However, this is not always the case because you don’t know where the water came from before it was bottled.
Legislators could require closer monitoring of how the bottled water industry packages, markets and sells bottled water. Earlier this summer, congressional members, the Government Accountability Office, the FDA and the International Bottled Water Association met to discuss the mechanics of regulating bottled-water companies and how they label their products.
For additional information on the source of your tap water, you can contact your local water provider. For additional information on the source of your bottled water, consumers can contact the bottling company directly.
We live in a semiarid climate where droughts will always be a part of our environment. Water for our future means conserving now. The Drought Response Information Project (DRIP) is a collaboration among the valley’s domestic water utilities and CSU Cooperative Extension to provide information and educate the public about drought and the importance of water conservation.