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Aug 19, 2008 07:48 PM

Do you drink bottled water (even if the tap water is safe)?

I never do unless unless I'm traveling and I don't trust the local water, and on occasion when I'm out and I forgot to bring a water bottle. At home, I just drink tap - I leave it in the fridge to get rid of the chlorine smell, otherwise the water tastes just fine. I know some mineral waters are perceived like wine and appreciated that way (not by me) but I'm more curious about generic bottled water - the stuff that beverage companies make using municipal tap water run through a reverse osmosis system. It seems awfully costly, from an environmental point of view, in energy for production, transport, plastics.

It seems others think so, too: in London, Ontario, sales of bottled water at all city-run facilities are going to be banned, and it appears other Canadian cities are considering it:

I'm curious whether anyone generally drinks bottled water when tap is safe, and if so, why.

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  1. If those facilities will instead offer accessible, potable, portable water that's not in bottles, then that's fine. But one drinking fountain next to the washrooms is not an adequate source of water for a building full of people.

    The value for me, in bottled water, is not so much the water as the bottle -- it's something I can carry around, put the cap back on, etc. I don't normally buy bottled water by the individual bottle, and I often refill my bottles, so even if I lived in London, I wouldn't be affected by this very much, but I still think it's probably a bad idea. If you won't sell someone a bottle of water in a public building, they're not going to go in search of a water fountain, they're going to buy a coke.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jacquilynne

      "they're not going to go in search of a water fountain, they're going to buy a coke"

      That's a good point. I think banning water sales in city-run facilities was more of a symbolic gesture than something that was expected to accomplish much (I'll bet London doesn't have any tax-paying, voter-employing bottling plants).

      1. re: Jacquilynne

        What did we do before we started paying for water? We are just filling our landfills with these bottles. People in Canada are very willing to recycle, and try as a whole to live a greener life. I wish our country could be more like them and stop the bottled water. Maybe there aren't drinking fountains because people drink bottled water - businesses might put more fountains or other substitutes in if bottled water takes a hike.

      2. I am baffled that smart people in NYC, Boston, and Denver, 3 cities with almost perfect public water supplies, either succumb to clever marketing or are too lazy to refill a bottle, and buy the bottled, often imported, stuff. I tip my hat to my friend Chips Berry in Colorado, who operates the best and most forward thinking water supply system in the US, as head of the Denver Water Board.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          actually, even famed nyc tap water sometimes has some nasty stuff in it. every once in a while, you get alerts on the news about avoiding tap water b/c x or y was spilled into it, or b/c above-safe levels of bacteria Z were detected -- or you avoid it out of common sense b/c what's coming out of the faucet is brown (i.e. when they do work on the building water heater, a pipe cracks underground somewhere, etc...).

          i happily drink nyc tap water about half the time out of laziness. (i even did it occasionally in india to no apparent ill effect.) however, if i were at all clever about it and non-lazy, i'd definitely boil and filter through a brita.

          1. re: cimui

            Of the water that is piped to NYC from the Adirondack reservoirs, a fantastic percentage, upwards of 40, is never metered. Which means that much is leaking out of the system (called exfiltration). Wasteful, not usually hazardous, and almost impossible to repair, physically and financially, for NYC. The opposite of exfiltration, infiltration of external substances into a plumbing system, can occur and is definity problematic.

            1. re: cimui

              I must be living in a bubble because in all my 36 years here, I remember maybe one time when I was a kid that we had to boil water. In all my adult life I certainly don't recall any alert to not drink the water in the 5 boros.

              As for the brown water, yeah that's common here, but you see it and know not to drink it. And it's gone in a few hours.

              I do drink tapwater, and use water bottles at home and for local travel, but I am wary of water when I'm away from home, especially if I'm not familiar with the location. However, i don't care for Dasani or Aquafina - and those are the ones that are just purified local water. No thanks.

              1. re: cimui

                I stopped buying bottled water recently. It costs too much in the long run, and if you think about it how many of those bottles are really being recycled? Instead I now put my BRITA pitcher to use and fill up my Sigg (I'm still somewhat of a slave to marketing) to carry around with me. I live in NYC, I doubt if I get cancer it's going to be from drinking tap water.

                Remember, Evian spelled backwards is "NIAVE"

                1. re: MrsT

                  well "naive" - but who's counting

                  1. re: thew

                    sorry... wrote this before coffee.

              2. re: Veggo

                I find the water in both Boston (this was a few years ago) and Denver to have off tastes which I do not like. When I visit, I drink bottled becasue of that. I think if I lived there, I would get used to it,and drink tap as I do at home.

                Not lazy or marketing, just chowishness.

                1. re: Veggo

                  One reason that Bostonians may not drink tap water is because the old city pipes have lead in them. The water is fine but the pipes are not.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I wholeheartedly agree. Even if bottled water may be slightly more pure, you are paying for the bottle. I am willing to risk the .0000001% chance of drinking something bad in tap water in return for protecting the environment and save money. Bottled water bottles are one of the biggest sources of plastic waste in the US.

                    Its ironic that many of the people I see at grocery stores have cases of water in their carts also have Velveeta and Oscar Meyer bologna in there. You will put that crap in your body but not water?

                  2. No. I am blessed to live in Melbourne, Australia which apparently has the best drinking water in the world. I carry a refillable bottle around, and just top it up from the tap.

                    When I am overseas I drink tap water, unless it's somewhere notorious for bad water quality, in which case I boil up the tap water (with one of those little immersion tong thingies) and use that to brush my teeth. As much as possible I don't buy bottled water ANYWHERE, as the empty bottles are one of the major contributors to the "floating plastic island", twice the size of Texas in the (?) Pacific

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: purple goddess

                      Im not sure how you can be confident of another countries water supply, most of the times it is not widely published info, and not known outside of the locals. The tap water in the town Iive in fails EPA tests for radium levels a couple of months each year, and the only reason I know about it is that I read the fine print on the back of my water bill. I dont use tap water to cook, or drink, but buy 1 gallon jugs of water @ the store each week. Its better to be safe than risk cancer, or other health issues.

                      I dont think you can boil radium, and other things that some tap waters contain, out of water.

                      1. re: swsidejim

                        How can you be sure that the bottled water you are buying is any better than what comes out of a tap?

                        I think that the bottled water industry is the biggest scam in the world - steal a natural resource, package it in a non-renewable resource, and make people think that they have to have it.

                        1. re: Dan G

                          I highly doubt the bottled water has radium in it, since most bottled water is filtered, and some cleaned using reverse osmosis. Either way its worth it to me to get the gallon bottles just to be on the safe side.

                          If the local water wasnt suspect at times, I would use the tap water for cooking, or the rare glass of water I do drink.

                          The point of my post was to advise this individual that water safety info is not always very easy to find, I had to read the fine print on the back of my water bill to find out our local issue.

                          1. re: Dan G

                            Plus, the plastic bottles the water industry uses are not only making up a goodly portion of our landfill (as well as the floating plastic islands in the oceans of the world), but leeching into the water they hold.

                            I use a replaceable water filter. Dunno if that's any better, but I haven't yet read anything against it.

                            Anyway, I think pretty soon we're all going to have to subscribe to the George Carlin Philosophy of Sanitation - he ate things that have fallen onto the floor on principle...says he wants to keep his immune system on the alert at all times so it's best to give it a work-out every day.

                            I know, I know, he recently died...

                          2. re: swsidejim

                            I'd consider my tap water failing EPA tests a for radium levels a couple months each year to be a very good reason for drinking bottled water! Filtration alone doesn't remove it, and boiling, if anything, concentrates it. RO does (which is probably what is used for your 1 gallon jugs, unless they truck it in from another area).

                            How does your town get away with it? Aren't there laws requiring potable municipal piped water in your area?

                            1. re: hsk

                              They are building a new water filtration plant(the town is only about 5,000 people. I could install a reverse osmosis system @ my house, but that costs a few thousand dollars, and takes up some space in the basement.

                              Like I said the only way I found out was by reading a flyer they sent out a few years ago, and by reading some very small print on the back of my water bill. The water comes in just above the recommended EPA levels for radium.

                              It does get expensive when I make a big pot of pasta, or something else, to use the gallon jugs to fill up my stock pot.

                        2. I, as well as my friends in Philly all do the same thing. Get a 20 oz soda bottle, fill it with tap, keep it in the frig, take it out when we go. Period.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: HarryK

                            We're lazy and waste money on bottled water.

                          2. No. I do use a water filter, though. DH continued to get Fiji water all the time even though we had filtered water at home. I talked about the environmental benefits of drinking filtered water. He soon stopped after I did a blind tasting test and found out that he preferred the taste of the filtered over Fiji.

                            For a water bottle, I use one of those camping water bottles. Because they have wide mouths, they're really easy to clean. The only time I drink bottled water is if I'm outside without my camping bottle and thirsty. And if I'm in the mood for fizz, that's when I'll get seltzer, Perrier, etc.

                            Unfortunatley, at DH's work, they only have Poland Spring water bottles. He's suggested to them that they just get a water cooler and people can just fill up their mugs. His suggestion was vetoed because the head guy's wife said water coolers were "tacky."

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              I've been refilling my sport bottle for years at the tap. Environmentally friendly and its free.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                I think I am going to have to copy you on the blind tasting! That is an excellent idea. I have been harassing my boyfriend about the waste of his purchase of cases of water every week -he claims it tastes better. Will have to do this!