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What Bottled Water Companies Don’t Want You to Know

March 6th, 2008

bottled-water-or-tap.jpgAlthough I had always suspected that the bottled water craze was mostly marketing hype, John Stossel’s study of bottled water vs. tap back in 2005 revealed that many Americans are even more clueless on this issue than I had previously thought. Meanwhile, this article by Jan Harper approaches the issue from a different angle. In this piece, the author raises concerns that the bottled water companies, in their attempts to satisfy the rampant consumerism of the clueless masses, may be contributing to water shortages or other environmental problems in underdeveloped countries. Admittedly, I haven’t fully researched this particular aspect of the bottled water issue, so if any of you have additional information that is relevant to this particular topic, please add this to the comment section below.

Sales of bottled water are steadily rising and have been for the past five years, according to Washington based NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations). This is good news for business, but not so helpful for third world countries where safe drinking water is less than plentiful and drought is a constant threat.

Just one third of the money spent on bottled water in Western countries with adequate drinking water supplies would double the availability of clean, safe, drinking water in these countries.

The problem is further compounded by all the energy needed to bottle, extract and transport this water to the end user. Water bottled in some developing countries is being extracted at such a rate that it is affecting the water supply locally. There has recently been discussion on this in the Southern Indian state of Kerala where the water in the underlying rock is being extracted faster than it can replenish itself.

The problem with the aquifer in Kerala has been exacerbated by the Coca-Cola company which takes large amounts of water for the manufacture of Coke and bottled water. Local farmers reported a problem with brackish spring water which was affecting their crops. It is thought that cracks in the bedrock have allowed fertilizers to seep through and contaminate the water. A compromise has been reached on this but similar problems exist in other areas of the world.

Worries have been voiced over the depletion of underground water reserves in the Great Lakes region of the United States and the growing bottled water industry has been blamed for this.

Nestle, the world’s largest seller of bottled water, announced last year that it had designs on the underground water supply around Orwell, Oswego County. The region’s deep springs are a very lucrative and valuable resource so Nestle is not without competition. Environmentalists are battling against the project, but even their warning that bottled water uses up fossil fuels and adds to global warming seems to make no difference.

Bottled water is a luxury in parts of the world where there is a readily available supply of safe drinking water, but it is not a solution in areas with inadequate supplies. The only effective solution in the latter case is to provide renewable sources of supply and cut down on the environmental pollution factors that accentuate global warming and affect climate in these areas.

5 Responses to “What Bottled Water Companies Don’t Want You to Know”

  1. comment number 1 by: steve


    actually i like to drink clean water, i dont use bottled water, but i fill the old bottle with filtered water.

    it works out far cheaper and better for environment too i guess.


  2. comment number 2 by: Delphine

    I hate to use bottled water but I do for my kids and pets. We have well water and I just don’t trust it since I got a report with some bad stuff in it. Check out the site I blogged about and maybe consider putting up a blog ad in your side bar for a few weeks.

    World Water Day is coming March 22, 2008!!


  3. comment number 3 by: Karlonia


    This is a good idea; in fact, many of the commenters on John Stossel’s article mentioned the same thing. In most locations, the tap water is safe in terms of being free from bacterial problems, but often still has extra minerals or other chemicals that people do not like because they may affect the taste. Therefore, using a filtration system can be a good alternative because it can purify the water without adding too much to the overall cost.


    Yes, well water is normally good to use but can be a problem if it becomes contaminated by pollutants that can seep into the groundwater from various sources. In this case, you can either use bottled water or set up a filtration system to eliminate the contaminants.

    I will look into the World Water Day thing later - if there is sufficient substance or interest in this, I might do a post on it when the date rolls around.

  4. comment number 4 by: drwiz

    Hello, There were lots of issues regarding this in Kerala, and the Plachimada plant was closed back in 2004… The communities of Kala Dera in Rajasthan and Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh are getting close to shutting down the bottling plants in their communities.

  5. comment number 5 by: Jacob Adomako

    I have read your comments about the dangers in the coke and pepsi. I want to comment on this as I wanted you to elaborate it futher on this issues.
    a. First of all WHEN should one take coke and Pepsi?
    b. How MUCH (quantity) should a person take
    c. WHAT can be replaced for these drinks if you wanted to take any
    soft drink?

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