Many people have purchased single-use plastic bottled water for its perceived health benefits. But drinking it is not necessary for good health, and compared to municipal tap water, single-use plastic bottled water is extremely expensive. Advertising, aimed at promoting the health-benefits of drinking bottled water comprises 10 to 15% of its retail cost to consumers.
An estimated 45% of bottled water in the U.S. is repackaged tap water that is LESS regulated by the FDA than public water supplies, which are regulated by the EPA and MA DEP. The FDA monitors and inspects water-bottling plants, but it considers this job a “low priority” and doesn’t do it on any kind of regular schedule. Moreover, if a bottler fails to meet federal safety standards, it can still sell the water. All it has to do is put a statement on the label, such as “contains excessive bacteria” or “excessively radioactive.” The National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, tested 1,000 bottles of water from 103 different brands and found that for about one-third of them, at least one sample was over the allowable limits for synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, or arsenic.
Municipal water is far better regulated than bottled water, and, for most consumers, their tap water is safe and of high quality. Further, on Cape Cod, municipal water costs, on average, under 4 cents per gallon, making it 135 times less expensive than bottled. Even consumers who invest in home filtering products for their tap water, are paying up to 32 times less than they would for bottled (Source: Internal calculation, available on request).
Learn more about your municipal water by visiting your Town's Water Department online or in person:
In this episode of Sustainable Practices, we discuss municipal water quality and protection on the Cape. The program features discussions with Dan Pelletier and Paul Anderson, the respective Water Superintendents of Harwich and Brewster.