quality posts: 16 Private Messages WootBot


If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, August is, just like the human body, at least 60 percent made of water: vacations to the beach, weekend trips to the lake or pool, big pitchers full of refreshing ice water. August is also National Water Quality Month, as you probably know, and it’s when we all have our big get-togethers to celebrate World Water Week (August 26-31!) and Sea Serpent Day (August 7). It may be hot and dry where you are right now, but at least Ken Jennings can make it rain knowledge with his August Debunker column, deflating everything you think you know about H2O.

Water Myth #3: Bottled Water Is Healthier and Tastier Than Tap Water.

With all the knocks bottled water takes, you’d think it must somehow be superior to tap water. Because of packing and transportation costs, it’s much worse for the environment, and it costs literally thousands of times more than tap water per gallon. Surely it’s better for you, or tastes better, or something. Otherwise, why the hell are people still drinking it?

Your guess is as good as mine. There are certainly parts of the world where bottled water is the only safe stuff to drink, but in the United States, as in most of the rest of the developed world, tap water is just fine. In fact, a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Food and Drug Administration regulations for bottled water are actually less stringent that the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that govern tap water. Repeated studies in Britain and America have failed to find any purity advantage to bottled water, and a 2008 study by an environmental group found the very same trace contaminants in bottled water that you’d get from the tap. That’s not surprising, since—unbeknownst to many consumers—many of the most popular brands of bottled water, like Aquafina and Dasani, are just reprocessed tap water from U.S. cities. In a 2005 ABC News report, even the scientist hand-picked by the International Bottled Water Association refused to claim bottled water’s superiority. “No, I wouldn’t argue it’s safer or not safer,” he said.

What about taste? That’s a more subjective contest, and different mineral contents mean that tap and bottled water from different parts of the world will have slightly different tastes to some palates. But it’s clear from looking at blind taste tests that much of the perceived “cleaner taste” of bottled water is psychosomatic. In a test conducted by Slate.com, New York City tap water beat Evian. In a 2007 panel of British taste-testers, London tap water beat 20 out of the 23 different brands sampled. In academic studies, about a third of all respondents typically end up preferring bottled water. Everyone else either doesn’t taste a difference or actually prefers tap.

Next time you’re tempted to buy a bottle of water, remember what Evian spells backward and head for the drinking fountain instead.

Quick Quiz: The label on Poland Spring bottled water boasts that it’s been selling “Natural Spring Water from” what state “Since 1845”?

Ken Jennings is the author of Brainiac, Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

Photo by Flickr member stevendepolo. Used under a Creative Commons License.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jerber8

What about the water I collect coming down off my roof during a rain shower? Just pick out the black specks and I'm good to go, right?


quality posts: 25 Private Messages prttymf8

Waters taste different to me. The well water at my in-laws house tastes awful. To me, Poland Spring tastes sweeter than other bottled waters. I'm perfectly happy with any filtered water.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages nutzgrant

Please realize that there ARE smaller bottled water companies out there that do NOT use tap water and work hard to deliver a good, local clean water as environmentally friendly as physically possible. (such as in returnable/re-usable bottles!) Not all bottled water is bad!


quality posts: 0 Private Messages duckgirl829

Tap water just tastes gross to me. And there are things in it that we shouldn't be drinking anyway like all the fluoride they put in there. It's actually toxic for heaven's sake. I use a filtered pitcher instead.


quality posts: 5 Private Messages Boxymoron
duckgirl829 wrote:Tap water just tastes gross to me. And there are things in it that we shouldn't be drinking anyway like all the fluoride they put in there. It's actually toxic for heaven's sake. I use a filtered pitcher instead.

Don't forget, the plastic of bottled water ends up dissolving into the water (the reason bottled water has an expiration date), leaving you ingesting all that flavorful petroleum product.


quality posts: 33 Private Messages jrs1980

I only work 7 miles from home, but I haaaate the water at work. Both home and work are less than a mile from the Mississippi River. Not sure what's the difference? I also grew up in the country with a well, so I'm sure that affected my palate.

I've been bringing in "home water" in bottles for over a year now. Which of course only makes it worse when I go for a nip at the water fountain.

My favorite bottled water is Chippewa Springs, but I'll only buy it if I've planned poorly and didn't bring my own.

Pardon me, would you have any bags of crap?


quality posts: 0 Private Messages baldguy

This is a topic that's been on my mind for ages because while I don't like the idea of introducing more plastic into the environment, I do find that some bottled water tastes better (to me) and encourages me to drink more water throughout the day.

The strange thing is this - even though I have very good quality water in my home and I live in an area where the water table groundwater is really better than areas like "city water" and I have a really good filtration system in place (sediment filter at the pump and inline filter at the fridge, with very clean lines) my house water just doesn't seem to taste as good as some bottled waters.

Last year I had our water thoroughly tested and the results came back good.

So then I bought a TDS meter (Total Disolved Solids - http://www.waterfiltersonline.com/tds-sources.asp ) to measure the TDS levels in our home water compared to the levels in a couple of brands of bottled water and here's what I discovered:

Average TDS level in the bottled water I buy - about 15 - 25 ppm (parts per million)

Average TDS level in my home water - about 160 to 250 ppm.

The chart on my TDS meter suggests that according to some government and/or FDA standards; nothing above 300ppm should be acceptable and so my home water falls into the average acceptable range.

But still, 25ppm is a big difference from 250ppm.

So while my home water is very clear to the eye and has almost no odor, there the TDS levels are much higher than almost any bottled water, and the bottled water honestly tastes better to me... almost like, "less heavy" or something.

SO I do try to avoid using too much bottled water (to be less environmentally evil) and drink my home water about 90% of the time, some days I just have to have bottled water when I'm in the mood to drink my full 8 servings for the day.

Not sure if I've added anything helpful to the topic but I hope so.

BTW - anyone who is curious like I was can pickup a decent reliable TDS meter online for about $15 and do your own testing / comparisons.

Edit / PS - the link I posted above is not meant to spam or promote any products on that site. In fact, the TDS meter they're selling on there for $37 is very smiliar to the one I purchased on a different major online retailer for only $15. Just wanted to clarify that I only posted the link for reference material, not promoting that site at all.


quality posts: 2 Private Messages klstrader

I feel like there are way too many variables to say definitively that one is better than the other. You'll always have advocates from both sides saying that their way is best, as with any other arguable topic in history since forever. I will say, however, and this is strictly me saying it, that I don't see bottled water ever going away. It's too convenient, and we're a people of convenience (very generally speaking, to avoid offense to anyone).


quality posts: 0 Private Messages raelalt

You need to drink some San Jose (CA) tap water. Then, after you rinse your mouth out from all of the mineral deposits, you will have the answer to your question.

Ever had one of those days where you just felt like:

*** 6/1/2007 Bollocks Of Cthulthu ***
Nyah, nyah, na-yah, nyah!


quality posts: 0 Private Messages perplexedguide

The Story of Bottled Water

The Story of Stuff


quality posts: 0 Private Messages TanookiSuit

Some tap water is toxic:

Some tap water is red, orange, or yellow, but "not a health threat":

Maybe if we fixed our tap water, we wouldn't buy so much bottled water...


quality posts: 0 Private Messages charleswsheets

The water in our area has unacceptable levels of arsenic. The water company says it's okay, but what else are they going to say?

I decided on a Reverse Osmosis R/O system. It stands alone, filters very hot and very cold water, so we always have plenty of good water available.

Using this method is way cheaper in the long run than bottled water or water service like Arrowhead or some of the others. You still have to buy filters once in a while but it's still half the cost of water service being delivered, and you never run out!!!

As far a bottles go, we keep our own bottles for when we're on the go, and take them with us. Our system filters out 99.9999% of sediment from the water. And it's great for instant Tea, or Hot Chocolate1!!! Luv our Water Machine!!!


quality posts: 0 Private Messages nonniemo

I did research on this in college and found that your local water is supposed to be more regulated than water that comes from another state. So I still tell people that. However, if one looks into the "cancer cluster" research that has been happening around Ft Detrick in Maryland, you would be surprised to hear that our own government was burying "Agent Orange" and other toxic waste in the ground since the cold war. Not a conspiracy theory (because I don't believe in those), but the cold, hard facts.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lynn820

Unfortunately, the assertion that tap water is as healthy as bottled is simply not true. If you live in the D.C. metropolitan area, your tap water has interesting levels of Prozac and estrogen, all from urine. The Prozac and the estrogen from birth control pills that is not used by the body of the user is excreted. The purifying process does not remove them.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ragex

In North Texas almost all tap water comes from the lakes. When August heat kicks in the lake water 'roils' and tap water stinks and tastes bad. You either use bottled water or a filtration system.


quality posts: 2 Private Messages stanishr

Have for more than 20 years used R.O. systems and refill bottles as needed. First R.O. systems cost $1200 but now good systems are under $200 for 5 to 6 stage systems and are easy to install yourself if you are handy at all. Replace filters every 4-6 months and put in a new system every 4-5 years. Bought last 2 systems online, but Sams, Home Depot etc. carry systems.



quality posts: 12 Private Messages lipophilia

Yes - there are cities with crappy water. If that's the case for you, get a filter system and a reusable bottle.
A lot of the bottles that you folks are using end up in the ocean - and then, once the plastic begins to get ground up into pieces, get piled up as 'plastic beaches.' (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamilo_Beach or http://beaches.uptake.com/blog/talking-trash-kamilo-beach-big-island-hawaii.html)
I'm with perplexedguide - the only good reason to use bottled water is if the only other choices are contaminated water or ultrasweetened soda.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages awikilife

For S.F., CA folks & Now others!! Chlorine = Bleach & AMMONIA so our water isn't safe to drink some can't even Bath or eat off plate or wash there clothes in it! :…( Learned long ago ones not to mix those! People who are on Kidney Dialysis, etc… can't have So I really not surprise the fish are dying :..(
The seal will leave or die off too. Chloramine as a secondary disinfectant in February of 2004. I use to be able to use Brita filters I could drink from the tap my body was use to Bleach but not ammonia. Seems I HAVE to buy Bottled water, COST, then recycling too. Even tried a filter that could get rid of the Chloramine, but I use A LOT of water, taking A LOT of medicines.A Lot of money for me, I'm on SSI + SSA. Have LOTS of stuff going on with my body. I've always used Brita never had to worry when I went out to slip a bit of tap water, I have, Dry moth & eyes, Sjogrne’s Syndrome! If I go out if I need water if I don't have a small bottle with me I have to do without! Thanks for Reading :D


quality posts: 5 Private Messages meadowlark

I am completely disgusted that the myth continues to be perpetrated here that tap water in the U.S. is safe to drink. The author has relied on a few reports and not dug into the subject deeply to find out what really goes on. Completely irresponsible journalism.

I was in the water treatment business for 18 years, and sold my business in 1996. After sending well water and city tap water to independent labs for testing for over 200 contaminants numerous times, I can tell you the idea that America's drinking water is completely safe "because they say so" is simply not true. The water in the Galleria area (a very affluent area) of Houston had so much aluminum in the water back then, it physically clogged reverse osmosis membranes repeatedly. People who did not drink bottled water in that area were ingesting huge amounts of aluminum. I myself have been diagnosed with toxic levels of aluminum, though I'm not going to try to prove where it came from.

I called the region 6 EPA office to report the contamination (verified by outside labs testing water from several households) and was told that a particular compound of aluminum was legal to use to precipitate the solids so they would fall out of the water to clear it, but it was supposed to be removed before it went through the distribution lines. I called the water plant and they said, "We're doing what we've always done" in an attitude of "no responsibility".

There is arsenic in some communities, carcinogens in others. The contaminants vary from place to place. It's far more widespread than most people think.

Yes, the bottled water companies are less regulated by law - because they self-regulate in the U.S. and laws have not been necessary so far. Most reputable companies deliver a product far superior to that we get through or faucets.

Saying Aquafina is "just city water that has been precessed" is extremely misleading and irresponsible. The final product is reverse osmosis water that has had over 99% or more of ALL contaminants removed. I've had it tested! Do you want them to take it from a creek or lake, then try to purify it? What ignorance!

A city cannot remove all the contaminants from the water it processes. The majority of the water supplied goes for industrial use, and is used for lawn watering, etc. Far less is used for actual human consumption. The cost to remove all the contaminants would be prohibitive, and in these difficult economic times, you can bet there are a number of communities who are not in compliance with EPA standards, yet keeping it quiet, hoping no one notices.

Did you know that our lakes and streams now contain all the prescription drugs people have been pissing out for decades and water treatment plants processing that surface water have no cost-effective means to remove them drugs? Fish are switching sexes due to hormones in the water. Distillation or Reverse Osmosis plus carbon filtering is the only way to remove these and most other contaminants (there are other specialty devices for removal of specific contaminants, but I am speaking of the greater majority of contaminants people are concerned about here).

Some issues concerning the EPA are a joke. Do you know that long ago they changed the dictionary definition or "pure" to mean that all bacteria has been killed? Water treatment equipment can be sold as a "purifier" even if it leaves behind all sorts of contaminants. It must simply kill bacteria. It can still even contain the dead organisms.

By the EPA definition, boiled pond water could be sold as "pure", but bottled water companies who wish to retain a buying public know that the customers are savvy and want a superior product. They stake their reputation on delivering a healthy product, and do normally present just that.

I refuse to drink most tap water anywhere I go. I forget the name of the Canadian study that proved an entire community was far healthier - at least as far as intestinal illnesses go - when every household was provided with a reverse osmosis system and used it. Intestinal disorders dropped by over 96%. The water source in the study was the equivalent of tap water here in the U.S.

The bottom line is that one can listen to someone who - though well-respected in other areas - writes a feely-good article to put one's mind at rest on a troubling subject without full research. One can take someone else's word for it, or one can do their own research and delve into the work of reputable sources to find the truth.

We all use a heck of a lot of water. If we can't manage to keep all the rat poo out of peanut butter, how could our nation make every drop of tap water safe to drink? It can't.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages GeneralAnubis

Not to sound "tinfoil hat" or conspiracy theorist, but fluoridated water is far worse for you than drinking water that comes out of lead pipes.

Most cities use fluoridated water these days, and I don't know where everyone else's knowledge about fluoride is right now, but I encourage you all to do some research into this appalling practice.

Thankfully, my city does not fluoridate the water supply, so I drink the tap water just fine - poison free.


quality posts: 5 Private Messages meadowlark

The most responsible thing one can do if they are concerned about the plastic bottle issue and they still want to drink the best water they can is to install a reverse osmosis system with a carbon post filter and buy reusable stainless steel bottles (disinfect with a mild bleach solution between uses) to refill with RO water.

Disinfect housings and waterlines at installation with a little peroxide, and change filters regularly. Frequency varies on the incoming water. Add a bit of peroxide any time the housings are opened, allow system to fill, discard first batch. Run line to your ice maker. Always provide a separate drinking water faucet for the RO water. Run a line to your bathroom with drinking tap there too.


quality posts: 4 Private Messages mndvs737

meadowlark - I think Ken's comment about the source of major bottled water brands is that many people have this perception that all bottled water is from some pristine spring somewhere, not a municipal water supply that's been filtered and then some salts added to "liven up" the taste (Dasani).

On a separate note, I live in the Memphis, TN metropolitan area. Our drinking water comes from the Memphis Aquifer (also referred to as the "Memphis Sands") - it's been repeatedly rated as one of the best-tasting public water supplies in America, and my town's water quality reports are always very good.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jtwigg




quality posts: 4 Private Messages Hodakaroadtoad

From what I've read, there are tougher regulations on bottled "drinking water" than there are on "spring water". The latter is what you really have to watch out for.

I love my well water (now that I have a good, working water softener and iron filtration system). However, I won't drink most tap water around here. I always feel like I'm drinking pool water. When I want water and I'm not home, I only buy drinking water.

On a side note, I prefer Dasani over Aquafina. I don't know if Aquafina doesn't add minerals back for taste or what, but I just don't like it. I also like the cheaper, Deja Blue, but it isn't as easily found. I mostly buy Walmart Great Value brand for my fridge at work.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages FrictionJack

Which is better? That's like a stab in the eye or a kick in the mouth. I'll pass on both, thank you. I'll stick with distilling water at home – it's relatively cheap, and absolutely pure.


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jcolag

Like mndvs737, the water in my part of the country generally takes top honors for taste (and no fluoride...which research really doesn't support tooth health except in a very narrow window, but since it's a manufacturing waste product, it's either sell it to municipalities or find someplace to dispose of it safely), and I've found that even the worst (like at work) is fixed with a boring carbon filter.

The point of the post, of course, was that you're trusting the companies (that charge, what, ten bucks a gallon, basically?) to do more than that, when...maybe they do, but when their advertising plays up "spring water" and raindrops and stuff, they'd probably rather not tell you that it comes from a tap three miles away from your house and gets passed through the same filter you should've bought anyway.

To me, between the source water, the plastic, and the time spent in the plastic, I've never found a brand of water I've liked. But I do wonder how long it'll be before people are convinced to breathe name-brand bottled air.


quality posts: 11 Private Messages Prey

My water is so bad it reminds me of swamp ooze, so drinking Any spring water without a taste is a blessing.

The water in NYC is pilfered from upstate NY, a pipeline so huge a dump truck can drive inside... so when you hear city dwellers bragging tap water is tasty, keep in mind they are drinking 1500ft deep NY State spring water, perhaps the best in the world.


quality posts: 12 Private Messages tslothrop

I find that, perhaps more than taste, the issue is convenience. It is handy to have chilled, ready to go bottles of water in the 'fridge at all times. Hard to fathom, when it is so easy to keep a few dedicated bottles and rotate them from tap filter to 'fridge as required, but there it is. The slight extra effort makes bottled water (strangely enough) very attractive. We are just too darn lazy; oughta be a law...


quality posts: 0 Private Messages eaglesfan76
jerber8 wrote:What about the water I collect coming down off my roof during a rain shower? Just pick out the black specks and I'm good to go, right?

Oh My Frying Goodness! NO!!!! What about all the polluntants the rain falls through before it hits your DIRTY ROOF!! I use it for my outdoor plants (I have 4 rain barrels) but wouldn't even give it to my dogs!


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lawt

Man, this is kind of sloppy from Ken. As one commentor points out, there is a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and hormonal compounds in many municipal water systems. Unlike common contaminants, http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List , these are not tested for, nor are they removed.



That's not to say they can't be in bottled water as well, as Ken points out that many companies just bottle municipal water (and some plastic bottles can leach estrongenic compounds into the water).

But if you know the source of the bottled water and have data on the normally untested compounds in that water, and you have data on the normally untested compounds in your municipal supply, you might reasonably decide to drink the bottled water. Now we just need to educate the public and get that data.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mrbrianchase

Obviously this guy has never been to the southern United States where the tap water looks and smells like crap or chlorine. I have been in parts of South Carolina and Louisiana where the tap water is brown and the authorities tell you to boil it before you drink it.

Yes many of the big brands just bottle tap water. There are many good companies that bottle spring water or water from an aquifer. If you can't taste the difference, there is something wrong with your taste bud.



quality posts: 0 Private Messages MannyLegacy

....... I just watched a great Documentary on Bottled Water .......called "Tapped". It will definitely make you think twice about drinking Bottled water.


quality posts: 5 Private Messages StanleyS
GeneralAnubis wrote:
Thankfully, my city does not fluoridate the water supply, so I drink the tap water just fine - poison free.

You left out: "Of course, all my teeth are rotting, but you win some, you lose some."


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kingofcrusher

Fluoridated water is NOT bad for you as long as it's under the EPA's limit, which it is in tap water. I see people repeat that fluoridation is bad for you whenever water comes up, but it's simply not at the levels tap water contains. It's very beneficial at those low levels. Just like every single thing in nature, the health benefits or harmful effects are entirely dependent upon the amount you're ingesting. Even vitamins can be detrimental to your health if taken in too high of dosages.

Water from many lakes/rivers contain fluoride too, just to wildly varying degrees. I encourage people to look up some actual research on fluoridated water from scientific journals instead of relying on what some web pages say that the data says.


quality posts: 7 Private Messages Leptailurus

Argue all you want that the US's tap water is "safe," but apparently there were two weeks recently where the tap water where I live was NOT safe to drink... and none of the residents got any note in the mail until after the problem was fixed. I honestly don't care if this sounds paranoid but that's enough, to me, to avoid tap water unless I have no other option.

Personally, I like sparkling water, preferably the ones that come in glass bottles and not plastic. Other than that I drink fruit juice or tea for my hydration needs.

meow meow meow meow meow meow


quality posts: 12 Private Messages tslothrop
kingofcrusher wrote:Just like every single thing in nature, the health benefits or harmful effects are entirely dependent upon the amount you're ingesting. Even vitamins can be detrimental to your health if taken in too high of dosages.

And water.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ccombs4569

GeneralAnubis wrote:

Thankfully, my city does not fluoridate the water supply, so I drink the tap water just fine - poison free.

StanleyS wrote:You left out: "Of course, all my teeth are rotting, but you win some, you lose some."

Wow, so you think its better to ingest fluoride than just to brush your teeth with toothpaste that has it? And yes, I realize you ingest a small amount of fluoride when you brush, but that only makes my point stronger since I don't want a double dose of fluoride. If your teeth rot out because your city water doesn't contain fluoride, you simply don't take care of your teeth. You want the government to wipe your butt too so you don't get a rash, lol?


quality posts: 0 Private Messages okbye

It depends very much on where you live. The tap water here smells like chlorine and tastes like it was filtered through dirty underwear and no filter I have tried makes it drinkable. It will actually make me sick to my stomach if I drink any amount of it, and I drink a ton of water. It's pretty much all I drink. I don't really care all that much about how safe or unsafe it is, none of us are getting out alive anyway, it's the taste I can't abide by. I buy distilled water in bulk by the gallon and fill my own cooler with it, the environment can suck it. I recycle the bottles.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dfseabrook

3 word answer: Convenient and Consistent!
The more important is the consistency factor. Saying tap water is like saying "cola", there's Pepsi, Coke, Tab, etc... They're all cola but each has a distinct taste. People by nature don't like change so they do like the same tasting water. This is why tap water will never win over bottled water. I'm sure some tap water is healthier than bottled and vice-versa, this is an irrelevant factor to what human nature dictates we do, and that's not change.
It's also much more convenient to drink bottled water because I can get the consistent taste I desire at any one of thousands of locations. There's no easy way to have the consistent taste of tap water, from one source, on the go.
Bottom line: Bottled water wins!