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Ah, water — I’ll drink to that

December 3, 2016 GMT

Bottled water is everywhere, in offices, airplanes, stores, homes and restaurants.

But is bottled water any better or safer than tap water? According to the Mayo Clinic, tap water and bottled water are generally comparable in terms of safety. So the choice of tap or bottled is mostly a matter of personal preference.

We drink 21 gallons of bottled water per capita per year on average, according to the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York. The Columbia Center says the bottled-water industry is so successful, it has outpaced milk, coffee and juice in number of gallons of drinks sold—behind only beer and soda.

Americans purchase enough bottled water to circle the globe more than five times. One problem with bottled water is that more than 80 percent of the bottles end up in landfills each year, according to the Columbia Water Center. They do not break down naturally and release toxic chemicals when they decompose. Another major problem with bottled water, according to Columbia, is that a traditionally public good has been privatized. Bottled water companies gain high profits by drawing water from public water sources, putting it in plastic containers, and reselling it at more than 2,000 times the price of regular tap water.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees bottled water, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water.

Some medical professionals, according to Scientific American, recommend tap water over bottled water claiming that tap water has stricter regulations, does not negatively impact the environment and costs much less, while some plastic bottles may contain harmful chemicals. They also say tap water offers less risk of bacterial contamination and that up to 50 percent of bottled water comes from the same place as tap water, not from some pure, exotic stream.

The International Bottled Water Association emphasizes that once the water enters the bottled water plant, several processes ensure it meets the FDA purified water standard. These treatments can, according to the IBA, include measures such as: reverse osmosis, distillation, micro-filtration and ultraviolet (UV) light. The finished water product, says IBA, is then placed in a sealed bottle under sanitary conditions and sold to the consumer.

Though the sale and consumption of bottled water is on the rise, certain policymakers and activists have taken steps to reduce it and encourage people to drink tap. In 2009, the Australian city of Bundanoon became the first city in the world to ban bottled water from its store shelves, installing water fountains around the city instead. Among U.S. cities that have taken action are San Francisco and Seattle, which no longer buy water for city use, and Chicago, which added a five-cent tax on each bottle. Several restaurants in those cities have also given up bottled for filtered tap.

Bottled water is also an alternative to less-healthy sugary packaged beverages Drinking water, whether tap, filtered or bottled, plays a vital role in people’s lives. Cheers! And that’s how I see it

Larry Johnson is an author and motivational speaker. You can contact him via email at larjo1@prodigy.net or visit his website at www.mexicobytouch.com