What’s In Your Bottle

It’s easy to take for granted the fact that we have easy access to safe water in our homes - something that more than 1 billion people in the world can’t rely on. Every day, committed professionals who work for more than 52,000 community water systems provide water to 286 million consumers throughout the country. And during this time of escalating prices of everything from milk to gasoline, we should remember that tap water is a great value.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors just released a study showing that, on a cost per ounce basis, municipal water is 1,000 to 4,000 times more affordable than bottled water. So this week, fill your own bottle (or other container) with safe, affordable water from your tap. Also, learn more about your water system, including how you can help to protect your drinking water source from contamination. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for information about the national drinking water program.

Recently, there has been much talk about bottled water versus tap water. Most Americans have safe tap water, and drink it fresh from the kitchen faucet. Others choose to buy more expensive bottled water. But bottling and transporting water can carry environmental costs and use energy and resources.

Drinking Water vs. Bottled Water - EPA Bloggers Respond

EPA’s public blog, Greenversations had this topic in mind when it posed the question of the week in July: “Why do you drink bottled water or tap water?”

Over 575 bloggers responded. Most stated they drank tap water more frequently than bottled water if given the choice. The most common reason for drinking tap water was the confidence that it is clean and comes from a verifiable source. Many respondents noted their concerns about energy use, solid waste, and other environmental issues associated with bottled water. Cost, and concern about possible health impacts from the plastics, were also factors.

By far, the biggest reason bottled water fans gave for that selection was taste. Many cited a chlorine tap water taste or a local saltier tap water taste due to mineral content. Another cited reason for bottled water was convenience. Some respondents declared that tap water safety was a concern for them due to health reasons, personal observations, or municipal source water quality suspicions.


EPA regulates drinking water from municipal sources under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Municipally treated water must meet established standards. EPA regulates the production, distribution, and quality of drinking water. It also regulates source water protection, operation of drinking water systems, and contaminant levels.

Bottled water is consumer product regulated as a food by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The water in the bottles can come from the same drinking water sources as tap water. Bottled water must meet FDA standards for physical, chemical, microbial, and radiological contaminates. When EPA sets a new standard for a contaminant in tap water, FDA must establish a new standard for the same contaminant in bottled water or find that EPA’s new standard is not applicable to bottled water.