Tap versus bottled water: the big showdown
In a previous article we highlighted the environmental destruction caused by plastic bottle pollution. Despite the staggering figure that 90% of the surface rubbish on our oceans is plastic, this doesn’t seem to be making a dent in people’s desire to drink from the bottle.
But what if it was simply broken down as this:
‘The average person will spend £25,000 on bottled water and associated soft drinks in their lifetime’ – as reported by Tapwater.org.
This seems to be a huge waste of money, considering that tap water costs around 1p for a bucket of Earth’s most abundant natural resource. Of course, we can’t exist without water, and the benefits of drinking it are untold, but how many of us turn on our taps and wonder just how it magically appears?
In the UK, two thirds of our water comes from the surface and the remaining third from groundwater, with the water industry comprising of 666 reservoirs, 1,584 boreholes, and 602 rivers for extraction.
The process of recycling sewage for our tap water is a fact that most of us would rather ignore, but with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive setting strict guidelines, our waste water is consistently turned into one of the cleanest tap waters in the world.
When we look at the statistics, all water (including bottled) will have been used in some capacity before reaching its final destination, but with the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) rigidly inspecting the processes of all UK water companies, 30,000 chemical and bacteria checks a year and a Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) report declaring that bottled waters are no cleaner than tap water, why are we spending ridiculous amounts of money on bottled water?
All drinking water has to be treated, whether it comes from a reservoir, river or a spring, and water from a tap has to go through several treatments before it is fit to drink. Let’s take a look at how Thames Water supply over 8.8 million customers a week:
- Removal of waste water via toilets, sinks, washing machines
- Primary treatment
- Secondary treatment
- Final treatment
- Sludge treatment
- Back to the river
- Collecting rain (from rivers and underground stores)
- Particle removal
- Final treatment
- Supply to the tap
With over 80% of Thames Water’s supply to homes coming from the rivers, and with a team of water testers carrying out more than half a million tests on the water each year, there is little to no margin for error.
The preference for drinking water from a bottle or a tap comes down to taste, and with the regional variations in water supply and water source, certain areas of the UK may have better tasting water than others. Fitting a water filter can not only help to reduce your energy bills, but it can also improve the taste of the water too.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it helps to make an informed decision based on the facts available to you:
Tap water is used in all of the following either in restaurants, cafes, bars or at home:
- Tea & coffee
- Soft Drinks
- Cats and dogs
- Supermarket water (30% of supermarket bottled water)
- Brushing your teeth
As Emeritus Professor of Geology, University of London, John Mather says:
“In most cases the bottled water is unlikely to be any improvement on your local supply and certainly no safer,”
(Photo by sara~)