Bottled Water and Aging Water Infrastructure Spell Bad News For Earth

Around 1980 my then Brother-In-Law suggested that I take my water expertise and begin selling bottled water. I told him that he was nuts and then lamented, “who the hell is going to pay for a bottle of water”? Nearly 40 years later, he looms a genius and I feel like a moron. For sure the bottled water market is an economic juggernaut. In a recent story by The Business Insider (See link at the end of this article), some amazing things about bottled water were shared.

  • In 2008 Americans drank 9 billion gallons of bottled water. That’s 30 gallons per person
  • Consumption of bottled water increases 10% per year
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used annually to make plastic water bottles
  • It takes 3 times as much water to make the bottle as it does to fill it

As the article points out, and secret to nobody, bottle water companies want you to fear your local water treatment service. I have maintained repeatedly that city tap water is by far the safest bet for any of us to drink. However, polls show that most people so not trust their local water authority to deliver safe water. Unfortunately, when stories reporting things like the tragedy in Flint hit the news wire, the sensational nature of water quickly sets in and people become concerned for their health and safety.This is the perfect storm for bottled water companies to sell more product.

I have no issue with a business making money, and in certain situations I am a fan of bottled water. However, the mass hysteria about water safety that is fueling a lot of bottle water sales is simply not good for the planet. I see a few problems that we must fix, and fix soon.

  • Water is being taken away from one community and spread to others
  • The plastic pollution caused by water bottles is unacceptable. It is out of control, We are drowning in plastic already.
  • A continued loss of faith in local tap water may one day soon cause people to not open their taps at all. Municipal water plants require revenue to operate and they still are our water lifeline. We cannot live on bottled water.

Water is America’s future. A report by Forbes in 2011 documented that if America fixed all of its aging water infrastructure, 1.9 million jobs would be created. America needs a National Water Plan. Americans need to feel confident about the safety of their tap water again. It is mandatory that we reverse the frantic reliance on bottled water and again look to tap water for our life line. If we don’t, we are going to drown in bottled water pollution and byproducts.