When the United Nations declared 2003 the International Year of Freshwater, they likely weren’t thinking of Perrier. And yet bottled water has become freshwater’s most high-profile face, from Evian to Dasani and scores of other brands that now crowd store shelves.
Why have products that cost 240 to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water soared in sales since the 1980s? According to the World Wildlife Fund, in 1976 U.S. consumption of bottled water was 5.7 liters per person; by 1999, it was 35 liters per person.
Americans say one of the main reasons they drink bottled water is because they believe it’s safer than tap water — and there is some reason to be concerned about tap-water quality in certain areas.
In a June 2003 study of tap water from 19 U.S. cities conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the water quality and compliance of five cities was graded “poor” and eight were ranked as only “fair.” The U.S. EPA, for its part, has been found to have overstated the quality of U.S. drinking-water supplies in recent years. The a... Read more