For years, we’ve heard that bottled water is safer than tap. In fact, so many people believe this truth that the bottled water industry grew 6.2% in 2012, with sales increasing 6.7% to total $11.8 billion, mostly from U.S. consumers. But, is this really the case? Water testing tells us the shocking reality.
Who regulates bottled water?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water as a food product. Though regulated to similar standards compared to tap water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the public water supply. The two are not held to the same standard.
In fact, if the bottled water doesn’t cross state lines for sale, it is exempt from FDA scrutiny. This means about 70% of the bottled water sold in the United States flies safely under the FDA radar.
All public tap water is subject to testing at the municipal facility as governed by the EPA. If for any reason your water isn’t safe, you are told about it right away.
Bottle vs. tap water
When it comes to bacteria like E.Coli and other coliform bacteria, bottled water is less likely than tap to be contaminated. However, when it comes to other contaminants such as chlorine, bottled water is really nothing more than filtered tap water.
In terms of cost, tap water will run you roughly 1 cent a gallon. If you’re spending $1 for a 20 oz. bottle out of the vending machine, that’s 5 cents an ounce. If you’re buying it in gallons, you’re still hovering somewhere near the one to two cents per ounce mark.
Chances are, you are already paying for running water at home. Why pay for something you don’t have to? If it is an issue with taste, installing a carbon filter on your faucet or in your well system will help greatly improve the taste, and safety of the water you get at home.
When you pull your water from the tap, you are saving more money, and you are also saving the world from excess garbage.
While bottled water is convenient, there isn’t really anything that proves it is safer than tap. When you know your home supply is contaminated with bacteria, it is a quick and easy to make sure you are drinking and cooking with a safe supply.
Testing the theory
Not sure whether to believe the marketing hype? Use a testing kit to test both your tap water (municipal or well) and your favorite brand of bottled water. If you are curious about brand quality, test multiple bottled brands. Compare the test results and see what you find. You might be shocked at the results!
Should you test your water?
If you get your water from a public local entity, then you do not need to test your supply, unless you are curious. They must test and treat on a regular basis to ensure you as a customer are getting a safe product.
If you get your water from a private well supply, then it is up to you or your landlord to ensure the water supply is safe. Test at least twice a year. Also test your water supply when:
- One or more members of the home has recurrent stomach bugs.
- After an intense storm or flooding has occurred.
- After work has been done on water/sewer lines on or near your property.
- After repairs are made on the well.
Whether you used bottled or tap really comes down to a matter of personal preference, but if you have well water, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to test regularly.