Tapping into the Truth About Bottled Water

Today, Tapped will premiere at the Maine International Film Festival. I was lucky enough to be a part of this wonderful and very important project. The documentary, from the producers of "Who Killed the Electric Car," exposes the billion dollar bottled water industry and its contribution to global warming, resource depletion and waste while exposing the reality that NRDC began to bring to light in our 1999 bottled water report: Pure Drink or Pure Hype.

Despite a growing awareness that bottled water is not any better than tap water and often worse, people continue to buy bottled water in alarming numbers. Water continues to be bottled from exotic and sometimes ecologically sensitive sources (or sometimes it just straight from a tap like yours), pumped in to petroleum-based plastics that leach into the water as they sit in hot containers while they are flown or shipped thousands of miles across the globe contributing to global warming, sold at a huge premium to thirsty city-dwellers, leaving behind a veritable mass graveyard of bottles destined to spend decades in landfills, or worse - in the middle of the Pacific Ocean like the giant floating plastic garbage dump.

While all of these facts about bottled water are extremely troubling in and of themselves, one aspect of bottled water that has always been a big pet peeve of mine is the fact that I like to know what I'm drinking and what I'm giving my kids to drink. And as I explain in the film, when it comes to bottled water, we really don't know what we're getting.

A key finding in Tapped,  as in Pure Drink or Pure Hype, is that because bottled water regulations do not require regular testing or ingredients listings, and most waters don't have to meet any bottled water standards, we really never know what we're getting.

At the national level, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety, but the FDA's rules completely exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same state, which account for up to 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the United States (roughly one of every five states don't regulate these waters either). Even the bottled water that is tested is exempt from many of the standards and testing requirements that apply to tap water. For example, while EPA's rules clearly prohibit tap water from containing any confirmed E. coli or fecal coliform (yes - that's bacteria that indicates possible fecal contamination), the FDA allows fecal coliform--up to a certain level. Just what you need to cool down on a hot summer day!

And there's much more, but I don't want to spoil the movie for you. What I do want to do is encourage you to check out the website, Tapped the Movie,  find a theatre, grab some friends (and a reusable, BPA-free water bottle) and go see Tapped.