March 22, 2013

Where does bottled water come from?

Peter Gleick is a suspicious fellow and did a lot of research for his recent book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. He wrote to many bottled water companies, asking them where their water came from. There is no legal requirement that they say on their label from whence the water comes. So most Americans don’t know much about it in spite of spending about $11 billion a year on it. Some bottlers were rather evasive and some gave surprising answers such as: About 1/3 Poland Spring comes from Poland Spring, Maine. All spring sources are in Maine and meet a distinct character profile.

Gleick found that only about 55 percent of bottled waters are actual spring water. The other 45 percent of brands is mostly treated tap water. Some (such as Aquafina, PepsiCo’s bottled water brand and Coke's Dasani) are from multiple sources. And what does "distinct character profile" mean?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) got into the fun topic too and found that 18 percent of bottled-water brands give zero information about where they come from. 32 percent of the 173 bottled-water brands failed to disclose information about their treatment procedures or water purity on the label. So caveat emptor, all you bottles water drinkers out there.