The results are in and Boston wins! At least when it comes to having tasty tap water, that is. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has honored Boston’s tap water in its annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test. Boston’s tap water beat more than 30 other contenders from municipal water systems in North America. The honor is part of the AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition, being held in Boston this week. Judges rated tap water entries on a number of flavor characteristics.
AWWA has hosted the municipal tap water contest for 10 years, and this is the first time Boston’s water has won recognition. The judges awarded second place honors to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, and the judges’ third place choice was City of Kalama, WA. The People’s Choice Award, chosen by conference attendees, went to the City of Kalama.
The bottled water industry has certainly given municipal tap water a run for its money, but consumers will rarely find a better, healthier value for their money than the clean, fresh municipal water that comes right out of the tap. Commercial bottled waters can come from artesian wells, natural springs or from municipal water supplies. Of the approximately 500 brands of bottled water available on store shelves throughout the United States, most bottled waters come from municipal water supplies!
As a consumer food product, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires bottlers to adhere to the water quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some states apply higher standards for bottled water, but bottled water must include source information on its labels, and must also include information about certain types of processing, like purification and distillation.
The cost of bottled water is one important way to look at consumer value. Comparatively, consumers can purchase more than 500 gallons of tap water for what they’d spend on a single gallon of bottled water. Another way to look at consumer value is the mineral content of bottled water. In some cases, the post-processing that bottlers perform strips the water of valuable naturally occurring minerals, like calcium and magnesium. Unless the processing includes techniques to avoid mineral loss, or to re-add “lost” minerals back into the water, bottled water could actually be nutritionally less valuable than tap water.
Once bottled water is opened, bacteria can be introduced and grow in the water under the right conditions. Opened water bottles that are warm or become warm, and water bottles that are re-capped without being wiped cleaned can provide the right environment for bacterial growth. Further, empty water bottles represent a significant solid waste stream. Currently only 20% of water bottles are recycled, and only water bottles made from PET plastic can be recycled. Further, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used each year to make packaging for bottled water products, and producers estimate that they “waste” 2 liters of fresh water for each liter of bottled water that they package for sale.
An excellent compromise is a home water filtration system. These systems are designed to remove chlorine that has been added to the water to discourage bacterial growth during transport. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can recommend and install home water filtration systems that can allow you to take advantage of the “Best of the Best” municipal water around while saving money and promoting a healthier environment!
For more information about home water filtration systems, or to schedule a consultation, please give us a call at (617) 288-2911.