Bottled Water and Municipal Water: Is It Safe?

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Several states have invested a lot in the provision of quality drinking tap water but despite this, bottled water has gained a lot of popularity in the last decades, for example 23% of residents in British Columbia receive more than 75% of their water consumption from the bottled water. Many believe that bottled water may be more advantageous when compared to tap water but relevant sources like National Resource Defense Council and the Food and Watch Organization say that almost forty percent of the bottled water is re-processed tap water. Therefore it is essential that one learns the facts between the two before making informed decisions about water intake (, 2015). Bottled water may include water from the springs, wells and natural mineral water but could also include treated tap water whereas tap water originates from the surface water.

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Many of the American generation always keep at least one bottle with them at all times and this may be healthier to the body than any sugary drinks or soda. The reason why most people are purchasing bottled water at any given time is its convenience. Its comfortable for one to have a ready source of water while on the road driving, out for a run, hiking in the mountains among many other places that water supply may be limited. When it comes to staying hydrated bottled water is healthier than carbonated drinks which people turn to when faced with inconvenient thirst (HRFnd, 2014).

The cleanness of the bottled water also makes it advantageous than tap water. The confidence in the cleanness and contamination free of bottled water is brought about by the regulations laid down on the manufacturing of bottled water by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency but the guarantee that one will always find clean tap water is minimal. During natural disasters like floods, water sources and lines may be disrupted making the water treatment plants to go offline (HRFnd, 2014). This may cause the water coming to our homes to be contaminated or may not even exist thus during these moments the bottled water may be a lifesaver.

Bottled water may be disadvantageous compared to the tap water in search a way that it is expensive to buy a bottle of water than to fill a glass with tap water at your sink. Bottled water may vary dramatically depending on the brand and the size of the bottle one prefers to purchase. The water in the bottles may not be expensive but the marketing strategies; packaging, shipping, administrative costs among other factors make the bottled water to be expensive. The manufacturer may only end up with a profit of about 25% to 30% as profit. The Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that sometimes water may be more expensive than oil, milk or wine (Mitka, 2009).

Another problem that bottled water brings is the wastes of the bottles that remain after one has used the water inside. It was revealed by the York State Department of Environmental Conservation that in 2006 about 31 million bottles were used by the Americans and also if the bottles used in New York were to be stacked then they could reach the moon. It is a wasteful of energy and materials which took to make the bottles that almost ninety percent of them end up in the trash after use. Therefore it is prudent to recycle empty bottles and also purchase reusable water bottles if one has to save money and their environment (, 2015).

Tap water that is safe for drinking must be from the lakes, streams, and wells that are protected from pollution, pipes must be well maintained as well as the treatment facilities must be modern. Water contaminants may be any biological, physical chemical, matter or radiological substance in water. If any of the factors are not observed then the water would not be safe for human consumption. Some of the cities with substandard drinking water are San Francisco and Albuquerque which have poor treatment systems, Atlanta which poorly maintains its distribution system and Fresno which has no real source of water protection. These cities contained a vast of contaminants in their tap water such as lead, pathogens and arsenic among others.

To keep public water safe, the congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974 whose intention was to protect sources of drinking water and to regulate the nations public drinking water supply. The Presidents Executive orders (EOs) play a huge role in a number of offices of water activities. EOs are orders that direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies in execution of the policies and laws that are established by the congress. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its state partners are the ones that administer SDWA. EPA sets legal limits on what levels of contaminants should the drinking water contain. These legal limits mostly reflect on the level of which the water system can achieve quality by using the best technology and levels that can protect the human health. Some of the highlights of SDWA include: establishes a federal-state partnership for regulation and enforcement of their own drinking water standards, requires disinfection of surface water supply and requires public notification of water systems violations among many others (, 2015).

Despite setting up the legal limits, the rules of EPA also sets the methods that the water systems must follow and water testing schedule in order to observe quality. These rules also provide for the acceptable methods for treating contaminated water. EPA has a mandate to periodically publish contaminants list which is known as the candidate contaminant list (CCL) and also make a decision to regulate at least five or more contaminants that may be on the list and this process is called Regulatory Determinations. They thereafter make use of this unregulated contaminant list to prioritize their research efforts. This assists the Agency to find out on whether specific contaminants should be regulated (Zivin, Neidell & Schlenker, 2011). Two categories of drinking water standards exist which are namely the National Primary Drinking Water (NPDWR) which protects the tap water from contaminants that can affect the public health and the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulation (NSDWR) which is a non enforceable guideline concerning contaminants that might cause cosmetic effects.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate the bottled water manufacturing as food. FDA has been provided with broad regulatory authority by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) over food that is delivered for introduction or introduced into interstate commerce. Under FFDCA, the manufacturers are required to produce wholesome, safe and truthfully labeled food products and this includes also the bottled water products. Therefore one could find himself or herself in the hands of the law if they introduce misbranded and adulterated products into the interstate commerce that violate provisions of FFDCA. Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR) has recognized precise regulations for bottled water for instance it has defined types of bottled water, standard of quality regulations that minimize certain levels of contaminants among other regulations (, 2015). FDA also inspects and monitors bottled water products and manufacturing plants under its general food safety program.

Despite the FDA guidelines to ensure high quality bottled water being similar to the EPA standards, for some years FDA has been left behind in their inspection procedure. For instance in the EPA guidelines, city water must be tested by certified government labs but this requirement is not applicable to the bottled water companies. Also tap water is not permitted to have any fecal coliform or E.coli bacteria but this requirement is not found in the FDA guidelines for bottled water. Therefore before one puts themselves in danger, they must have to weigh the options available for the two types of water before making critical decisions. Both options to my case may not be healthy for consumption therefore I would advocate for economical, healthiest and environment friendly drinking water filters.

References,. (2015). EWG Tap Water Database 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2015, from

HRFnd,. (2014). Bottled Water Pros and Cons - HRFnd. Retrieved 4 November 2015, from

Mitka, M. (2009). Bottled Water Safety. JAMA, 302(6), 619.,. (2015). NRDC: Study Finds Safety of Drinking Water in U.S. Cities at Risk. Retrieved 4 November 2015, from,. (2015). Regulating Public Water Systems and Contaminants Under the Safe Drinking Water Act | Regulation Development | US EPA. Retrieved 4 November 2015, from,. (2015). Bottled Water vs Tap Water: Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved 4 November 2015, from

Zivin, J., Neidell, M., & Schlenker, W. (2011). Water Quality Violations and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from Bottled Water Consumption. American Economic Review, 101(3), 448-453.

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