Drink from the sink

Posted on | July 9, 2009 | No Comments

THE TITLE of a Government Accountability Office reportBottled Water: FDA Safety and Consumer Protections Are Often Less Stringent Than Comparable EPA Protections for Tap Water” released yesterday underscores what inside water people have said for years: forget bottled water, drink from the sink.DSC03175

From the Associated Press via the Denver Post today, “The GAO and the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, recommend in reports released Wednesday that bottled water be labeled with the same level of information municipal water providers must disclose. The researchers urged Americans to make bottled water ‘a distant second choice’ behind filtered tap water because there isn’t enough information about bottled water. But the working group recommends purifying tap water with a commercial filter.”

From the New York Times today: “Bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities because of gaps in federal oversight authority, according to reports released yesterday by government auditors.”

From Dr. Peter Gleick’s water blog in the San Francisco Chronicle, which got to the story first yesterday but has the best walk off line: “The U.S. also doesn’t require information be provided on where the water comes from, such as the actual spring or groundwater aquifer or municipal system. We don’t require the label to include information on how the water was treated before being put in the bottle, or the results of water-quality tests (a whole different topic), or even how consumers could get that information from the web or the bottlers themselves.

Finally, bottled water companies are permitted to brand their product with almost any name or picture, no matter how misleading. We thus have ‘Yosemite’ bottled water from a municipal source in Los Angeles, ‘Everest’ water from Texas, and all sorts of ‘Arctic’ or ‘Glacier’ brand waters from Florida and other places about as far removed from the Arctic or glaciers as one can get.”

And from me: For Angelenos who buy Crystal Geyser water, it comes from Owens Valley in the Eastern Sierra, the same place that supplies much of LA’s municipal water supply.

Update: (07/10/09), NEW SOUTH WALES, AP REPORTS: The town of Bundanoon, Australia has banned bottled water. “Residents cheered after their near-unanimous approval of the measure at a town meeting Wednesday. It was the second blow to Australia’s beverage industry in one day: Hours earlier, the New South Wales state premier banned all state departments and agencies from buying bottled water, calling it a waste of money and natural resources.

I have never seen 350 Australians in the same room all agreeing to something,” said Jon Dee. “It’s time for people to realize they’re being conned by the bottled-water industry.”

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