You'll never believe where your bottled water comes from

Compiled by Lane Anderson, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Mon, Aug. 25, 2014, 11:45 p.m. MDT

(moodboard, Getty Images/moodboard RF)

Ever wonder where bottled water comes from? Lots of us are staying hydrated this summer with water from California, which is languishing in a record-breaking drought.

Bottling companies generally get their water from two sources, according to a Mother Jones article that maps where bottled water comes from. The first source is spring water — groundwater that's collected "at the point where water flows naturally to the earth's surface" or through boreholes that access it, according to the EPA.

Spring water acounts for just over 50 percent of the bottled water in the U.S, and the other half comes from the tap. That's right — Dasani and Aquafina, among other bottled water brands, just treat the stuff out of the faucet and bottle it up. So why guzzle from California's taps when it's drying up?

A lot of bottling companies happen to have set up shop in California, writes Mother Jones senior editorial fellow Julia Lurie. "You have to remember this is a 120-year-old brand," Jane Lazgin, a representative for Arrowhead told Lurie. "Some of these sources have long, long been associated with the brand."

In addition, California is the only state that doesn't regulate groundwater use. Even though 80 percent of the Golden State's water goes to agriculture, it's still "headscratching" that we would siphon away the dry state's drinking water, said Lurie.

Even Lazgin from Arrowhead agreed that from an environmental standpoint, "tap water is always the winner."

Consumer demand is the biggest driver behind bottled water — wherever it comes from. The industry produced about 10 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012 in the U.S., according to the International Bottled Water Association, with revenues at $12 billion.

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

1. Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT,
Aug. 26, 2014

I was in California this past summer and was amazed as to how common bottled water was, even with a 5 cent required bottle deposit.

But bottling in CA makes sense -- production near your market is something taught in business schools for cost efficiency.

Bottled water, unfortunately, is bad for the environment as not only does it require plastic bottles that are not likely to be recycled, but the shipping of the heavy product requires fossil fuels.

I recall reading some time back about how Fiji Water is a classic paradox. Here in America, it is considered an upscale bottled water, but it is shipped from an impoverished remote nation where the water supply is controlled by corporations at the expense of local citizens. And of course, the fossil fuels to ship that water is another cost to consumers and the environment.

Here's another water problem: China is literally shipping its water to America via canned fruit and apple juice. The millions of cases shipped every year to America is literally shifting the water table and will likely will impact that nation of 1.3 billion people.

2. coltakashi
Richland, WA,
Aug. 26, 2014

While the transportation cost of bottled water is a legitimate question, it is primarily addressed through the cost that is incorporated into the sales price. We don't need a Federal or state "water czar" telling us where we can get water from. While many western cities have good quality tap water, that is not so everywhere. Orlando's tap water tastes terrible, yet is served in restaurants and carbonated beverages.

Plastic water bottles are not a threat to the environment. They do not take up any significant amount of space in landfills, and there is no shortage of landfill space in America. The worst thing to do is burning it and turning it into Carbon Dioxide and air pollutants. Water bottles are no different from bottles that hold sodas or fruit drinks. If they aren't recycled now, they can be retrieved from landfills years from.now and be recycled when demand makes it economically worthwhile. And you don't want pastics to biodegrade and release chemicals into groundwater. Packaging should be inert and benign, like dirt.

3. RRB
Aug. 26, 2014

I remember we once tried to drink Canada dry.

I have found a tap filter or water pitcher with a filter to be far superior tasting water. Many of these water companies go through less stringent water purification than local tap water.

4. My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT,
Aug. 27, 2014

And they are still in denial and not acknowledging they re being scammed by people selling water from the tap as purified and filtered and better water.

A few years back I got interested in this and took it upon my self to question and test some water services and bottled water comparisons. For the most part, they were all testing the same as tap water. The only tap water in question are those area near mining and aquifer contaminated with concentrations of minerals related to mining with heavy mineral taste.

I contacted several water companies, checked and compared yearly water reports with federal standards in water quality and most of the SL valley were well within the federal standards and same as bottled water being sold off the shelf in stores. In home filtration systems for drinking water are a waste of money and do not remove or purify water beyond what the water districts supply. It was also interesting to find that the human body relies on many of the minerals and chemicals that are naturally occurring in water the sellers try to tell you are harmful, no-one wants to listen to the truth.