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Sample Home Page » Why we should switch from Tap Water to Bottle Water?


 




Running Head: Why we should switch from Tap Water to Bottle Water?

 

                                 

 

Why we should switch from Tap Water to Bottle Water?

[Writer’s Name]

[Name of the Institute]

 

 

Roohi has witnessed over the years a shift in public sentiment about drinking water. In the 1960s, bottled water was more the object of derision than trust, he says. "People laughed when you tried to tell them about bottled water. We had a difficult time years ago convincing them they should be drinking bottled water. Today, it's a different story. Today, people are more health conscious, more educated. It is a different market altogether.


"And as people learn about the negative things that exist in the municipal water, the contamination, they begin to realize we were right all along. Now you walk around and see people everywhere drinking bottled water. It is very much a growing industry. And I was there from the beginning.


Tap VS Bottled
The International Bottled Water Association, a trade organization for the bottle water industry, defines bottled water as water without sweeteners or additives that is sealed in a sanitary container and sold for human consumption. There are various types of bottled water, including artesian water, mineral water, sparkling water, well water and purified water. Bottled water can be carbonated and flavored, as long as the flavoring comprises less than one percent of the final product's weight.


Unlike water from municipal, or public, supplies (which are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, and in Baton Rouge--the state Department of Health and Hospitals), bottled water is considered a food product and is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


About 75 percent of bottled water is from protected sources, while the other 25 percent is from public water systems that meet federal and state requirements as defined by the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. Bottled water from public water systems is protected by both the EPA and the FDA.


Both Kentwood and Abita Springs believe that quality assurance is what drives consumers to choose bottled water over tap, and both companies hire chemists or microbiologists to regularly monitor the quality of their water. As with nearly all bottled water companies in the United States, Kentwood and Abita Springs use a process called ozonation to purify their artesian water. Ozonation, which uses electrically charged oxygen to disinfect the water, is an alternative to the chlorine additives used in most public water supplies.


According to Chris Dunn, a vice president of marketing For the Suntori Group, which owns Kentwood, there are generally two major reasons why consumers opt for bottled water. "The No. 1 reason is purity, the fact that bottled water doesn't have anything else in it, no substances that can impart a taste. Trust and quality are No. 2.


"Municipal water authorities have a hard job," Dunn said. "Only 1 percent of the water processed is used for drinking or cooking; the rest is for washing clothes, dishes and cars, or for taking showers. More and more consumers simply do not want to risk problems. They want to be sure. Even when the municipalities do the best job possible, you still have potential problems with the infrastructure, the pipes that lead from the water plant to your own home. About 18 percent on average leak out in the United States, which makes you wonder about what might be coming in."


And, said Harry Corliss, Kentwood's division vice-president for the Southeast: The municipal governments do a great job with what they have, but when you deal with a pure source and sanitized bottle, you deal with a more consistent product. In addition, only about 1 percent of tap water is consumed in the home and the other 99 percent is for utility use. It makes sense that you would want to drink water exclusively meant for human consumption, Water that tastes good and is under careful control."


Abita's Roohi agrees. "With bottled water, consumers can be assured there is quality control at all times. With tap water, they can't. By the time consumers get it in their homes, it is no longer under quality controls, especially when you consider problems with leaky pipes or lead pipes. "Bottled water is always under quality control, because it goes through an extensive sanitation process and the bottles are sealed and capped. So the consumers know they're drinking a good product."


Local Water Supply
Jay Ray is the program manager of the Office of Public Health's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, which helps to provide chemical, bacteriological and engineering surveillance over public water supplies. "A public water supply is any system that provides water to 25 people or 15 service connections. That includes all subdivisions, schools, industrial facilities and so forth. There are about 4 million in Louisiana. All the public water supplies must meet the same standards," he said.


Despite alleged concerns, Baton Rouge water--ground water drawn from a number of local wells--has consistently met those safety standards in accordance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Program and enforced by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health, according to David Bary, Communications Director of the EPA's Office of External Affairs.


Public water is tested regularly for bacteriological, chemical and radiological qualities. The Office of Public Health submits quarterly reports to the EPA and tests water monthly for bacteria. In addition, OPH oversees chemical testing on ground water every three years. Baton Rouge's water, like most water supplies in the U.S., has a chlorine additive to rid the water of bacteria or other microorganisms that may pose a health risk to consumers.


Bottled water critics attribute such an increase on effective marketing, not a superior product. In fact, argues Deborah Lapidus, national organizer for Corporate Accountability International (Boston, Mass.), more than 30% of bottled water comes from the tap. Such information has been widespread in the media recently, ousting Pepsi's (Purchase, N.Y.) Aquafina, and Coca-Cola's (Atlanta, Ga.) Dasani. Now both companies state on their Web sites that their products begin with public water sources before further purification.


Whatever the drive, the industry is more booming than ever. According to a survey conducted by the International Bottled Water Association (Alexandria, Va.) in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corp. (New York), more than 33.3 billion L (8.8 billion gal.) of bottle water were purchased in 2007, a 6.9 % increase from the previous year.


"It's simple. It is just clever marketing and tricky labels that are used to make people think that bottled water is better tasting, or of better quality," Lapidus said. "You can put snow-capped mountains on your label, but it's still tap water in a pretty bottle. It's our job to let the public know this."


Corporate Accountability International has launched a campaign to sway public opinion - Think Outside the Bottle - working with city officials throughout the United States to enhance local municipalities' public water marketing efforts, to create and produce a number of educational guides promoting tap water, to supply reusable water bottles, and to host community events nationwide that raise awareness. One event, the tap water challenge, asks random people throughout the country to participate in a blind taste test between name brand bottled water and local tap water. According to Lapidus, very few can tell the difference. As part of the campaign, the agency has received 33,000 pledges from individuals promising to opt for public tap water and encourage local officials to do same.


But these grassroots marketing efforts offer little competition for the $15 billion bottled water industry. "It is only in the past decade that bottled water has inserted itself, and it has a snowball effect," Lapidus said. "More revenue for the industry means more intense marketing efforts, and it can be hard to dispel their inaccurate messages that their water is safer."


Tap water is regulated by the EPA, and bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While both have seemingly similar standards, critics of the bottled water industry say that the FDA is more lax, while pro-industry people support the FDA's policies, noting that bottled water undergoes the same scrutiny as any other food product on grocery store shelves.


At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, June 20-24, mayors across the country made a statement of their own, adopting a resolution encouraging cities to "phase out, where feasible, government use of bottled water and promote the importance of municipal water."


"We are sending the message that our water is just as good, everyday," said Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, co-chair of the water counsel, the task force that brought the initiative to the forefront. "The [bottled water] industry is making money hand over foot, filling up landfills, increasing dependence on oil, and raising question in the public mind, and they show no interest in righting this."


According to Tom Lauria, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association, there is nothing to "right." He argues that bottled water only accounts for 0.33 % of the waste stream, and is providing the public with a healthier drinking option.

 

"They [the mayors] are discouraging hydration. Water is the healthiest, most convenient drinking option. People are drinking bottled water because it is a convenient option and they would otherwise choose caffeinated products or products with dye," Lauria said. "We aren't competing with tap water ... everybody has a choice."


In a statement released after the resolution, the American Beverage Association took a more aggressive stance accusing the mayors of choosing "sound-bite environmentalism rather than sound public policy by creating a false choice between bottled water and tap water." The press release also said that the resolution was instigated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, but didn't reflect the views of most American mayors.


According to Mayor Chávez the resolution was passed unanimously, and comes on the heels of city initiatives already enforced throughout the nation. More than 60 cities prior to the resolution had taken steps toward eliminating or reducing bottled water consumption.


In 2007 New York City launched a marketing campaign, spending more than $700,000 to purchase ads displayed on the subway and bus kiosks and aired on the radio that promoted public water. Chicago placed a tax on its bottled water. Minneapolis partnered with artists to paint water fountains. San Francisco issued an executive directive more than a year ago discouraging spending city dollars on bottled water, and dozens of other municipalities throughout the nation followed suit.


REFERENCES
Lauren, Anne. "(Bottled) water, water everywhere." The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. 1999.
Jordan-Nowe, Ashley. "Conspicuous Consumption." WEF Highlights. Water Environment Federation. 2008
Rachel Neiman. "All Dried Up." Jerusalem Post. 1996.
Gorski, Donna. "Tapping into water." Dairy Foods. BNP Media. 1997.
"Bottled water bye-bye?." The Shopper Report. Consumer Network, Inc. 2007.
Anonymous. "Making a splash." Missoulian. Missoulian. 1999.

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