Jul 10 2007
06:42 am

I buy bottled spring water. In spite of how heavy it is to drag home, I started doing this because I thought it was safer and tasted better. Now I'm having second thoughts. This article about the recent banning of bottled water in San Francisco made me take a second look at bottled water. (link...)

This website also had me wondering if I should turn back to tap.

Bottled water is not safer...

The bottled water industry has created a misconception in the United States that bottled water is cleaner, safer, and healthier than tap water. In fact, both regulation and enforcement of bottled water safety is weaker than of tap water safety. Federal, state, and local environmental agencies require rigorous testing of tap water safety. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates bottled water – if the water is sold over state lines, meaning up to 70 percent of all bottled water produced and sold within states is exempt from FDA regulation. Most food processing plants are not even inspected once a year and any safety testing of bottled water is performed by the companies themselves.2 A landmark study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found approximately one-third of tested bottled water brands violated, in at least one sample, an enforceable standard or exceeded microbiological-purity guidelines. The most common contaminants were arsenic and synthetic organic carcinogens.

Bottled water is bad for the environment...

Bottled water wastes fossil fuels and water in production and transport, and when the water is drunk the bottles become a major source of waste. It takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans every year. Eliminating those bottles would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.4 Each one of those bottles required nearly five times its volume in water to manufacture the plastic 5 and may have caused the release of nickel, ethylene oxide, and benzene.6 Then, rather than being recycled, 86 percent of them are thrown away.7 Breaking down these plastics can take thousands of years, while their components seep into our water supplies.

A comprehensive report of a study that prompted all this is at (link...)

Geckofile's picture

i have purchased a berkey

i have purchased a berkey water purifier, it does wonderfully,
heres a pdf brochure

heres the berky web site

they also come in stainless steel:)
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Factchecker's picture

The environemental problem

The environemental problem of manufacturing and then being stuck with so many used plastic bottles is huge and should be obvious, even if the bottles get recycled. And transporting H2O around the globe in diesel vehicles to substitute for local H2O that is identical is just crazy. Another sign of a very sick society.

The health issue has been around too. If nothing else, how long does some bottled water sit still on a shelf or pallet? What really protects it from bacteria? It would have to be sterile not to grow bacteria, wouldn't it? Yet how could it be sterile?

Why not just put a carbon filter on your tap to take out the chlorine? That said, I have to admit that most bottled water tastes better than filtered tap water. I have no idea why, and I've done A-B tests in the same container. Is it the select minerals added "for taste"? If so, why doesn't someone just market the dry minerals that you could mix in regular filtered water with a teaspoon?

P.S. We use a KDF filter purchased from this guy.

bizgrrl's picture

Purchasing bottled water

Purchasing bottled water when out and about ensures consistency.

I drink a lot of water, more than most. At home I drink filtered tap water. Depending on where I travel, I will fill a water bottle to take with me. When out and need more water I buy bottled water.

Water from public utilities is not consistent even within the same utility. It can be a rude awakening to get a cup of water from the tap to find out it is disgusting.

Consider this statement in the SFGate article, "In many cases, the quality coming out of the tap is equal to or better than bottled." [emphasis added] Meaning, not always.

Consider this request for action in the Food & Water Watch article, "What America really needs is increased funding for public drinking water and water treatment.
America has some of the safest tap water in the world but many cities operate water systems that were built before World War I. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there is a shortfall of more than $22 billion per year between the funds available for repair and upgrade of pipes and treatment plants and what is needed to keep water safe for human and environmental health."

[emphasis added]

"She doesn't want to expose the 7-pound Lhasa apso, named Kosmo, to trihalomethanes. Since 2005, the chemical byproduct of chlorine decontamination has been detected in the water at levels that exceed federal safety standards, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection."

"The entire bottled-water business today is half the size of the carbonated beverage industry," says Jeffery" [Nestle Waters]...

Some states are considering requiring deposits for water bottles just like they do for other types of drink containers. Great idea!

Factchecker's picture

There's no doubt tap water

There's no doubt tap water tastes much differently in different areas, and much of it tastes quite awful, but it seems relatively easy to filter out virtually all of the impurities leaving only water. This is essentially what most bottled water is: filtered tap water with maybe some minerals added back. I think KUB water from the tap tastes pretty bad, Oak Ridge's pretty good. Florida tap water I remember tasted bad, as if there was sand in it.

We too reuse water bottles a few times, though they say #1 bottles should not be refilled.

Andy Rooney did a piece on bottled water this week.

talidapali's picture

We have...

A Pur water filter on the kitchen tap and we fill old coke bottles with water and put it in the fridge to get cold to carry with us. We also have a Brita filter pitcher that we keep filled in the fridge for drinking from at home. Paying 1.99 for a 16-ounce bottle of water is ridiculous. We do occasionally buy the flavored sports waters, just for a change of pace flavor-wise, but we recycle most of the bottles and save a couple for refilling at our kitchen tap. Besides, a few years ago there was a MSM report about the guy that started the Aquafina water company, by filling bottles from his garden hose in his backyard. And Aquafina still comes from municipal water supplies in it's home city, no fancy artesian springs or such.


"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"

"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

bizgrrl's picture

they say #1 bottles should

they say #1 bottles should not be refilled

I did not know this. I believe the bottled water I have are # 1 bottles. Thanks for the info.

Brian A.'s picture

I generally drink tap water

I hope it is safe. [What you don't know can't hurt you?]

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

redmondkr's picture

The Taste of Time

When I think of bottled water, I think of this stuff.

For those who don't remember, more info here.

Visit us at

Wearybottom Associates

Factchecker's picture

Oops in a good way

I did not know this.

I guess I didn't either. It never made much sense when it was going around, so we've reused them a few times. (They get hard to clean after a while anyway.)

Thank you, bizgrrl. Your reaction caused me to actually, like, you know--look it up, and now I'm relieved! Also found this and this. The latter says that polycarbonate might be a problem, and those are the bottles that are sold expressly for drinking water. All our PC bottles have leaked since they were new anyway.

Factchecker's picture


I don't remember that episode, but the Minnifield part was a giveaway. One of my favorite shows of all time.

Andy Axel's picture

We too reuse water bottles a

We too reuse water bottles a few times, though they say #1 bottles should not be refilled.

The local Wild Oats sells purified water in bulk... maybe I'll look into that.

I've also thought about getting an inline ozonation unit to use in tandem with a GAC filter. Sterilize that stuff.

(As far as carrying water with me and reusing, I use Lexan.)


I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

talidapali's picture

God I remember Wild Oats!

From when I lived in Albuquerque. There was one just a block away from my apartment complex, I could take my dog for a walk with my little cart and go in and grocery shop, cause they allow you to take your pets with you (totally kewl!) in lots of stores in Albuquerque and especially in Taos. Then I could trot on home with my little cart , I got exercise, sunshine, some good organic food...it was win-win all around.

I wish, wish, WISH we had a Wild Oats here in Knoxville, preferably in Fountain City. I hate having to drive all the way to West Knoxville to get good food or having to fight the traffic to get to the Food Co-op on Broadway, I NEVER can find a parking place.

I kind of wish they would move into the old Target store location on Broadway in Fountain City. Ftn. City/Halls is BEGGING for some good organic food stores, I think they would do really well here.


"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"

"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

Hayduke's picture

PET (Recycle code 1) and

PET (Recycle code 1) and Lexan (7) bottles both leach bisphenol-A into the stored liquid. This is either totally harmless or really, really bad for you depending on whether the research was funded by the plastics/food processing industry or not. The body takes the stuff up like estrogen. There are now measurable levels of this stuff in the oceans and no way to get it out.

The safe stuff seems to be #2 (cloudy, milk jug stuff), 4 and some sources say 5. There was a good piece on this in the Hellbender a year or two ago, but I can't find it online. This talks about some of the same stuff:

I ended up switching to aluminum SIGG bottles after doing some research on it.

Carole Borges's picture

Thanks for that post...

I'm learning a lot here. There is so much information and much of it is so conflicted that it is really hard to absorb. My plan is to choose only a few of the things that make sense to me, then adopt the changes suggested. I'm really glad so many people on the blog know so much about this water problem.

As far as stores go, I like Trader Joe stores. (link...)
I wish they had one in the North Knoxville/Fountain City area. Their prices are really low.

Bbeanster's picture

My homeplace is high on a

My homeplace is high on a ridge in east Knox County, and my parents have a very deep well that was dug some 70 years ago. This week, my sister and I were helping my mom water her garden(s), both flower and vegetable, and the cold, sweet water took me back to my childhood. Taste-wise, it doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to the chemically- treated river water KUB sends to my tap down here in OWLP. In the 50 years my parents have lived up on the ridge, the well has never once failed us. That aquifer runs deep and strong.

My folks have had it tested periodically, and it's very pure. The water pressure is high, which I guess is a function of their pump, and it comes squirting out of the hose like a geyser, castng rainbows in the sunlight. It hadn't occurred to me until now, but I should carry it home in jugs, rather than buy bottled water.

Carole Borges's picture

What a delicious description!

Years ago I lived on a farm in Western MA that had a deep, deep well and your post made me remember what an incredible treat it was just to have a nice cold glass of water. It was actually sweet, and it was also totally free. You're lucky to have access to such good water.

Andy Axel's picture

Whole Foods acq.

They still carry the Wild Oats shingle / brand on the storefront here in Green Hills.


I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

Andy Axel's picture

Not many options. Farmers

Not many options. Farmers markets in Davidson County don't have a whole lot in the way of local and/or organic and/or wild produce.

At least, not the ones I've run across.


I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

Rachel's picture

I'm with bizgrl - I go

I'm with bizgrl - I go nowhere w/o a water bottle. Since the spouse is a cyclist, we have about a zillion of 'em and they're #4s. I generally just fill 'em with tap water from the house, but will replenish with bottled when out & about.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

rocketsquirrel's picture

bottled fer me, thanks

We just replaced the water pipes in our house.

This is what they looked like.

bottled fer me, thanks

PS: For all those copper thiefs, we used Wirsbo PEX. yep. plastic. no value at all at a metal recycler. It is awesome.

zoomfactor's picture

But we crave electrolytes!

Isn't tap water, like, out of the toilet?
--paraphrased from the most excellent film "Idiocracy"

rocketsquirrel's picture

or was it

Spinal Tap?

bizgrrl's picture

we have about a zillion of

we have about a zillion of 'em and they're #4s

What do you buy to get a #4? I checked my water, cranberry juice, and other bottles. All are #1s.

Rachel's picture

They're not bottles anything

They're not bottles anything else came in. They're bottles made specifically to be water bottles - for hiking, cycling etc. Some of them came with back packs we bought, but most of them the spouse has accumulated over the years. I suspect many were give-aways at bike rides he's participated in.

I'm sure you can buy 'em at any outdoors store. Probably Wal-mart too, for that matter.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

Hayduke's picture

Ah yes, better to ingest

Ah yes, better to ingest invisible poisons than grody looking iron oxide that won't actually hurt you?

Actually, PEX is a polyethylene, so no (known) nasties leaching out of it. But it's not (yet) recyclable in this crosslinked variant.

rocketsquirrel's picture


yeah, well, the black goo wasn't iron oxide. It was definitely organic and smelly.

And yes, even tho we now have Pex, we still use bottled water.

Brian Hornback's picture


for me

redmondkr's picture

We all know why W. C. Fields

We all know why W. C. Fields never drank water.

Visit us at

Wearybottom Associates

R. Neal's picture

For some reason, I am

For some reason, I am reminded of Gen. Ripper and Purity of Essence.

smalc's picture

I grew up on well water, so

I grew up on well water, so I have a hard time drinking straight from the tap. If it is really cold I'm usually ok. My parents' well is less than mile from White Oak Creek/dam on the Oak Ridge reservation, so maybe it wasn't so good for us. But, our home water comes from Watts Bar lake, so who's to say it is any better. We have a filter on the fridge which removes all the taste-hopefully there is nothing else in there that they do not list on the quality reports.

The KUB water at our office is better than the Watts Bar UD we have at home, there's no way I could drink it unfiltered.

Michael's picture


Here's an excellent article on the bottled water biz:

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