Think your bottled water is better than tap water? Considering that nearly half of bottled water is actually untreated tap water, you might want to think twice before reaching for that bottle. In fact, the reasons for avoiding bottled water are myriad. Lack of regulatory oversight leaves bottled water companies to choose whether to test their products for contaminants; if a company does find contaminants in its water, it is not required to report these findings. Even more alarming is that the production of plastic bottles requires several harmful chemicals (as well as derivatives from crude oil).  Often, these chemicals, carcinogens linked to the development of several diseases (e.g., brain disorders, diabetes, and ovarian disease), make their way into plastic bottles and, of course, into the water itself.

California Drought

[Two hundred thousand people in Santa Barbara County rely on Cachuma Lake as their main water source. Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA. 10 Feb. 2014. 20 Aug. 2014]

A new reason to avoid bottled water has emerged in recent months: the water bottled by some prominent bottled water brands (i.e., Arrowhead, Aquafina, Crystal Geyser, Dasani, and Nestlé) comes from California—which is currently experiencing one of the state’s most severe droughts on record. The reasons we are drinking bottled water sourced from an area plagued by drought are made obscure by the lack of groundwater regulation in California, the only Western state without such laws, and the fact that companies are not required to specifically identify the areas where they obtain water. One valid explanation for the companies’ sourcing from California is that they have established factories in the state, which have been in operation for decades.  Such a situation exemplifies the familiar clash between business interests and sustainability—one that repeatedly emerges when companies reap billions in revenue from the exploitation of dwindling natural resources.

For more information:

Lurie, Julia.  (2014 August 11.)  Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country.
Breslin, Sean. (2014 August 15.)  The Truth About Your Bottled Water: It Probably Came From a Drought Zone.
Abrams, Lindsay.  (2014 July 14.)  Nestlé is bottling water straight from the heart of California’s drought.