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The Truth of Water. Bottled Water vs. Tap Water – What’s the difference anyway? . Sarah Shimek Duda Minnesota State University, Mankato, Water Resources Center. Bottled Water –Myth Busters.

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the truth of water

The Truth of Water

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water – What’s the difference anyway?

Sarah Shimek Duda

Minnesota State University, Mankato, Water Resources Center

bottled water myth busters
Bottled Water –Myth Busters
  • "If you were cool, you were drinking bottled water," says Ed Slade, Evian's vice president of marketing since 1990. "It was a status symbol.”
  • “… no one should think that bottled water is better regulated, better protected or safer than tap," says Eric Goldstein, co-director of the urban program at the Natural

Resources Defense Council

(NRDC), a nonprofit organization

devoted to protecting health and

the environment.

  • Up to 40% of bottled water is

sourced from tap water


  • In 1999 the NRDC tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands & found a third of the brands contained bacterial or chemical contaminants, including carcinogens, in levels exceeding state or industry standards. (That’s 34 brands!)
  • Approx. 60-70% of bottled water is not regulated at all.
  • Contamination can come from leaching of chemicals in the bottles themselves.

leave no trace or muddy boots ecological footprint
Leave-no-trace or Muddy Boots: Ecological Footprint
  • The Fiji Water plant is a state-of-the-art facility that runs 24 hours a day. That means it requires an uninterrupted supply of electricity, something the local utility structure cannot support. So the factory supplies its own electricity, with three big generators running on diesel fuel.
  • According to his calculations, it takes about 72 billion gallons of water a year, worldwide, just to make the empty bottles, says Todd Jarvis, PhD, associate director of the Institute for Water and Watersheds at Oregon State University.
  • America’s recycling rate for PET is only 23%, which means we throw away 38 billion water bottles a year – more than $1 billion worth of plastic.
  • About 1 billion bottles of water a week are moved around in ships, trains and trucks in the United States alone. That's a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water.

Bottled Water's Environmental Toll (Eco Footprint con’t)

• The energy used each year making the bottles needed to meet the demand for bottled water in the United States is equivalent to more than 17 million barrels of oil. That's enough to fuel over 1 million cars for a year.• If water and soft drink bottlers had used 10% recycled materials in their plastic bottles in 2004, they would have saved the equivalent of 72 million gallons of gasoline. If they had used 25%, they would have saved enough energy to electrify more than 680,000 homes for a year.• In 2003, the California Department of Conservation estimated that roughly three million water bottles are trashed every day in that state. At this rate, by 2013 the amount of unrecycled bottles will be enough to create a two-lane highway that stretches the state's entire coast.• In 2004 the recycling rate for all beverage containers was 33.5 percent. If it reached 80 percent, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of removing 2.4 million cars from the road for a year.• That bottle that takes just three minutes to drink can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.

pennies from heaven
Pennies from Heaven
  • If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
  • “Bottled water costs more ounce by ounce than oil,” Amber Collett, Corporate Accountability International
  • In the U.S. combined water & sewer bills average only about 0.5% of household income
  • National average cost of tap water is $2.00 per 1,000 gallons, the same amount of bottled water would cost $8,000
tap water just as pure practically free
Tap Water: Just as Pure & Practically Free
  • Indeed, while the United States is the single biggest consumer in the world's $50 billion bottled-water market, it is the only one of the top four -- the others are Brazil, China and Mexico -- with nearly universally reliable tap water.
  • Minneapolis water tested 400 – 1,000 times daily
  • Common treatment processes include coagulation (settling), filtration, and disinfection.
filtered water the perfect beverage
Filtered Water: The Perfect Beverage?
  • 4 out of 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit
  • Point of Use Filters (POU’s ) include filter pitchers, faucet filters, distillers, reverse osmosis units
  • Point of Entry Devices (POE’s) include adsorptive media (carbon filters), aerators, water softeners

the last drop
The Last Drop

  • Sources for this presentation include:
    • U.S. EPA, (Bottled Water Basics, Filtration Facts, Water on Tap: What you need to know)
    • Bottled Water: A river of money, by Fast Company
    • Bottled Water vs. Tap Water, Readers Digest
    • Bottled vs. Tap: Which is safer, L.A. Times Oct. 13, 2008
    • Bottled drinking water, World Health Organization,
    • Clean water shortages cause global concern, Minnesota Daily, March 26, 2008
    • Test Results: Chemicals in Bottled Water, Environmental Working Group, Aug. 14, 2008