Natural Spring Water or Reconstituted Tap Water?
Recent allegations against the Coca-Cola Company and its brand name of bottled water, Dasani, have publicly highlighted one of the biggest misconceptions about the quality of bottled water. Coca-Cola, advertising its bottled water as “pure, still water,” is now being investigated for misleading consumers about the true nature of the contents of its bottles. Rather than deriving its water from natural springs, Coca-Cola had actually been filling its Dasani bottles with purified tap water.
Of course, this problem of reconstituted tap water in Dasani bottles would not be so large if it was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, the process of bottling tap water is not limited to the Coca-Cola Company. In 1999, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published the results of a four-year study in which researchers tested more than 1,000 samples of 103 brands of bottled water. These researchers found that,
“An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not.”
In one case, a brand of bottled water, advertised as “pure, glacier water,” was found to be taken from a municipal water supply while another brand, flaunted as “spring water,” was pumped from a water source next to a hazardous waste dumping site. While “purified tap water” is arguably safer and purer than untreated tap water (depending upon the purification methods), a consumer should expect to receive something more than reconstituted tap water for the exceptional prices of bottled water.
If bottled water does not necessarily offer purer water than tap water, surely it provides a better tasting water product, right? The answer to this question is no. Bottled water does not always taste better than tap water.
In an interesting study conducted by Showtime television, the hosts found that 75% of tested New York City residents actually preferred tap water over bottled water in a blind taste test.
While taste is certainly highly subjective, this study shows that bottled water essentially holds nothing over tap water. In many cases, bottled water is no purer than tap water, and it may not even taste better.