Tap, bottled water similar

Carrie Fossum

Spending a dollar here and there for a bottle of water may not seem like much, but it does add up. Beverage Marketing Corporation reported that the bottled water industry reached $11 billion in sales in 2006.

But does this multibillion-dollar industry really offer a different product than what comes out of the tap, or is it just clever marketing?

Drinking water is important to everyday health, but bottled water is not necessarily healthier than tap water. The Natural Resources Defense Council conducted a study on the contaminants in bottled water to address the question: bottled or tap? In good news for poor college students’ bank accounts, the study concluded that bottled water should not automatically be considered better or safer than tap water.

Tap water is tested more often than bottled water. All of the results for the tap water tests are available to the public. Last month, the water in Ames was tested 55 times to check for bacteria. In every sampling, there was no confirmed bacterium.

Even though tap water is tested more vigorously, the bottled water industry is growing. When buying bottled water, you are paying for all of the shipping costs, said Phil Propes, Ames water plant supervisor.

“Think of the water shipped to America from the Fiji islands,” Propes said.

In some cases, you are buying into fashion and trends, such as with Bling H2O. For $40, you can purchase the 750 ml edition “Pearl White” bottled water. For less than what the Bling H2O costs you, can purchase a T-shirt advertising their product.

The Ames Water Treatment Plant gives away a 16-ounce reusable bottle, which for an initial cost of only $1, can be filled more than 4,000 times with the tap water in Ames.

Ames has won multiple awards for tap water quality, including first place in 2002 for the best water quality in Iowa.

Abby Glaser, sophomore in dietetics, likes her water in a convenient bottle, but she drinks both bottled and tap water.

Last month, PepsiCo Inc. announced they would be changing the labels on their bottled water to relay to consumers that much of the bottled water is obtained from the same source as tap water. If you happen across a bottle of water that has “P.W.S.” on the label, it means “public water source” – also known as tap water.

Laura Byrd, senior in sociology, has never had a problem with the tap water in Ames.

“I don’t like to pay for something I can get for free,” Byrd said.