California is suffering through a record drought. Water is being rationed and its usually fertile agriculture industry is suffering. Meanwhile, someone in Minnesota or Kentucky or Maryland may be drinking a bit of California’s precious commodity. Mother Jones reported that at least four major bottled water companies—Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead—use water from California, either ground (spring) water or tap water. Aquafina and Dasani both bottle and sell treated tap water, while Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead use spring water.
That’s partly because the brands are based or have plants there. In addition, California is the only western state that doesn’t regulate or manage groundwater use.
Mother Jones senior editorial fellow Julia Lurie reported that while the amount of water used to make bottled water pales in comparison to the 80 percent of California water used in agriculture, the idea that water is being directed away from the drought-stricken state is head-scratching. Even a spokesperson for Arrowhead told her that from an environmental standpoint, “tap water is always the winner.”
Lurie says it comes down to how well the American public has been sold on the concept of bottled water—even when it’s just a filtered version of what comes out of their faucet.
“Despite the fact that almost all U.S. tap water is better regulated and monitored than bottled, and despite the hefty environmental footprint of the bottled water industry, perhaps the biggest reason that bottling companies are using water in drought zones is simply because we’re still providing a demand for it: In 2012 in the U.S. alone, the industry produced about 10 billion gallons of bottled water, with sales revenues at $12 billion,” she wrote.
april Barcenas says
Yes the privatization of our water has been slowly creeping up. Corporations want you to buy the water form them not municipalities. Pay attention, go back to the tap!!!!
I am with the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and wanted to share a few important facts about bottled water and about the Mother Jones story referenced in your article. You can also view our press release (http://www.bottledwater.org/facts-about-bottled-water-and-california%E2%80%99s-drought) which provides consumers with some additional facts and information about bottled water and California’s drought.
The amount of water used for bottling water in California is very small. In fact, bottled water production from groundwater sources accounts for less than 0.02% of the total groundwater withdrawn in the U.S. each year. While that figure may vary slightly by location, the amount of water used for bottled water is only a fraction of overall water use in California, or any other state.
The fact is that most of the bottled water from California sources is sold in California. It is not part of our industry’s usual business model to ship bottles of water thousands of miles from where it is produced due to high transportation costs. Bottled water plants are located through the country and produce bottled water for customers in that area. We have created this map (http://www.bottledwater.org/public/Where%20bottled%20water%20comes%20fromAUG15.pdf#overlay-context=reports-studies) to help people understand that bottled water is made all over the U.S., not only in California.
Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by the FDA as a packaged food product. By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the EPA standards for tap water. And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are substantially more stringent.
Water resource management is a very important issue to the bottled water industry, and sustainable, protected, and naturally recharged water sources are the single most important aspect of our business.
You can learn more at http://www.bottledwater.org.