Bottom Line: Reduce your ecological impact and potential health hazards by drinking tap water instead of bottled water. Bottled water is not necessarily any cleaner or safer than water from the tap.
Health and Quality
San Mateo County Tap water is highly regulated and tested for public safety by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes the EPA to enforce health standards for drinking water and requires public notification of water system violations and annual reports to consumers on contaminants found in drinking water. Alternatively, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which often uses EPA's tap water standards to determine safety. However, the FDA exempts from testing water that is packaged and sold within the same state, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the United States. Bottled water is not necessarily any cleaner or safer than water from the tap.
Roughly 25 to 40 percent of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle - sometimes further treated, sometimes not. There are increasing concerns about the health effects of drinking water that has been stored in certain petroleum-based plastics. Studies continue on exposures to harmful chemicals from plastics leaching into liquids stored in the bottle. While these issues continue to be under investigation, we as consumers can choose to drink from containers made of glass, steel, aluminum, and lead-free ceramics.
At least 1.5 million barrels of oil are used each year to create the 28 billion plastic water bottles purchased by consumers in the United States, and at least 86 percent of those bottles end up in landfills and incinerators, according to the Container Recycling Institute, Center for American Progress.
In order to both reduce costs and improve their ecological footprint, several leading US cities have chosen to levy a special tax or ban the use of city funds to purchase, single-serving bottled water, including: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Chicago.
*All above information gathered from the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention website: http://flowstobay.org, the Natural Resource Defense Council website: www.nrdc.org, and the San Mateo County RecycleWorks' website: www.recycleworks.org.