Which is dirty: The water or the study?

One of the recurrent themes in today’s round-up of the news highlights of the week carries troubling contradictions. Two reporters who do exemplary jobs covering their local water beats, Staci Matlock of the Santa Fe New Mexican and Janet Zimmerman of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, quote local water managers saying that their water quality tests do not jibe with the ratings reported on December 12th by the Environmental Working Group, which were then later widely broadcast by the news media.

In the case of Riverside, the water authority contends that the group ranked the city based on tests of untreated groundwater. Santa Fe is still investigating what its water department sees as a discrepancy. Once shot out of a cannon into the press, even subjects as important as municipal water quality rarely get the follow-up that they deserve. This post-script to The week that was, 12/13-19/2009 is to urge

Drink from the sink

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.

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.”