EPA Region 3
Topic: Drinking Tap and Bottled Water
Host: Bottled water has certainly come a long way since it was introduced to American society as an upscale beverage for the health conscious.
Thanks to influential marketing and a willing public, every day, many people make the choice between tap water and bottled water.
Hi. I'm Lena Kim of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic Region, and welcome to Environment Matters – our new series of podcasts.
When EPA, on its official blog called Greenversations, asked: Why do you drink bottled water or tap water?" nearly 600 people responded.
Explanations varied, but generally speaking, the responders who drink tap water appreciate its low cost and safe availability. And those who drink bottled water gave reasons like: it is convenient while they are on-the-go; bottled water tastes better; and they're uncertain about the safety of tap water.
Jennie Saxe of EPA's water protection division says for some people, choosing to drink one over the other can pose a dilemma. But she says knowing where the water comes and what's in it can help inform your decision.
Jennie: Drinking water in the U.S. is some of the safest in the world. Its quality is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the many regulations that limit the amounts of metals, organics, and other contaminants which sometimes enter a water supply. You can find out where your water comes from and what contaminants have been detected in your water supply by reading the annual water quality report that your water supplier publishes every year. If you didn't take a close look at this report when it arrived in the mail or with your water bill, contact your water supplier – they likely have some extra copies or have the report posted on their web site.
Host: 90% of Americans are serviced by public water systems that must publish these annual water reports. So if you want to know how well your water supplier is meeting requirements to protect the public's health, check out the latest report.
And for those of you who rely on private wells for your drinking water, you should know that EPA does not regulate private wells.
Jennie: We suggest that citizens who have their own wells should contact a certified laboratory to have their water tested on a regular basis – generally speaking, about once a year.
Host: And Jennie has some tips for consumers of bottled water that could lessen the burden on the environment.
Jennie: The packaging, shipping, and waste disposal associated with bottled water do have an environmental cost. But if you choose to drink bottled water, you can lessen the environmental impact by properly disposing of plastic bottles: that is, by recycling them.
You can also limit the amount of plastic bottles you use by buying your bottled water in larger containers and filling up a smaller re-usable container for drinking. A similar tip is great for improving the taste of tap water: just fill a pitcher with cold water from the tap and keep it in the refrigerator. You can use this water to fill smaller, re-usable containers for use throughout the day.
Lena, if you don't mind me asking, which type of water do you prefer?
Host: Our family drinks of a mixture of tap and bottled water. We drink bottled water while on the go when we want something quickly and we're in the car, and we drink tap water when we're at home and it's convenient and I'm assuming there's likely more fluoride in that tap water? And thanks to your information Jennie, I'll likely go home and investigate using re-usable water bottles for my kids.
For more information on this topic, visit our Web site at www.epa.gov/region3 and click on drinking water. You'll find links to various Web sites dedicated to protecting your drinking water, learning about your local water quality, and successes in providing healthy drinking water to communities in the mid-Atlantic region.
Thanks for joining us on Environment Matters – our new series of podcasts.