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Bottled water vs. tap water

When it comes to water quality and cost, it’s important to know the facts

Our friends at Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District took to Twitter to ask a handful of water utilities for thoughts about a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, We don’t trust drinking fountains anymore, and that’s bad for our health, by Kendra Pierre-Louis.

The piece provides an interesting history of the public water fountain, unveiled in London in 1859, and follows its rise and decline along with that of bottled water — at one point considered to be “low class”  — alongside public health environmental changes that have influenced society’s behavior and choices since the late 1800s.

Madison Water Utility responded with a picture of water fountains they’ve installed in local schools with a sign saying: “Your brain is 70% water! Drink up for a healthy you!” And Miami-Dade County’s Urban Conservation Unit shared their own photo of a drinking fountain, proclaiming they would like to see more.

The article and tweets are really about the value of water, igniting a conversation of the benefits that safe, affordable tap water provide to the community. But the article inevitably touches on a popular battle in the world of water: bottled vs. tap.

Obviously, we promote the great-tasting and affordable water that we’ve provided to the Denver metro area for nearly 100 years. However, bottled water serves an important purpose for us and the community. In fact, we provide bottled water to customers during some emergencies when there is an extended water outage. But, the bottled vs. tap debate usually includes a lot of misinformation, especially when it comes to water quality and price, so we thought it important to chime in.

Water quality:

According to a Gallup poll cited in the piece, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about pollution in their drinking water, “even though tap water and bottled water are treated the same way, and studies show that tap is as safe as bottled.”

That’s a pretty hefty number. Many bottled water companies actually use tap water as the source, and bottled water is not as heavily regulated or tested as tap water.

Next time you fill a glass from your tap in Denver Water’s service area, know that the water you’re drinking is part a system that has more than 16,000 samples taken and 66,000 tests performed each year, to ensure the highest-quality water possible.


Pierre-Louis writes: “Drinking eight glasses of tap water a day costs about 49 cents a year. If you got that hydration exclusively from bottles, you’d pay about $1,400, or 2,900 times more. If you’re living at the poverty line, that’s 10 percent of your income.”

‘Nuff said. Currently, Denver Water customers pay an average of less than $3 for 1,000 gallons of water. Because we don’t make a profit, rates go to covering service costs — what it takes to capture, treat and deliver Rocky Mountain snowmelt to your tap as clean, great-tasting water.

Whether it’s through bottles, taps or fountains, water is the single-most essential element to every community. Water is life, and we applaud those who continue to keep the conversation of its value moving forward. Drink up!