20 Aug 2008

How Good IS Your Tap Water?

Many people who drink bottled water are worried about the quality of their tap water.

Many people blast them for being naive -- saying that tap water is much safer because it's subject to more regulations on quality than bottled water. They even point out the ironic cases where bottled water from municipal sources was more dangerous than the original sources (e.g., Dasani in the UK).

But "I knew a guy" arguments do not cut the mustard for people worried about what they are drinking -- and does not address the main problem -- we don't really know what's in the water we get out of the tap OR the bottle.

Does anyone see the profitable idea here? Home water testing kits that look for 20-100 "yucky" things in a water sample. The key feature is that consumers can test THEIR water in THEIR house (or their bottled water from Costco).

If the test says the water's good, no need to buy filters, bottled water, etc.

If the test says it's bad, time to complain to the water supplier. (The supplier MAY try to push the incident back to "house plumbing," but additional tests would make it easy to lay responsibility.)

I bet that any company could sell about five million test kits that cost under $20 and took less than an hour to give results.

Can anyone recommend water testing kits (or testing programs run by local water suppliers)?

Bottom Line: It's better to argue with facts at hand, not opinions from thin air.

Addendum: Only 90 percent of tap water exceeds standards and all kinds of info on tap water. (Posts from left and right, nice.)


  1. Seconded. I was just about to send some tap water from my workplace to be tested a while ago (it was absolutely vile) but got too lazy. I'd be very interested in seeing which is worse out of:

    -tap water
    -filtered tap water
    -bottled water
    -drinking water by the gallon
    -spring water by the gallong
    -distilled water (my fave)

  2. It's all about the Wealth Effect. People probably aren't that worried about the safety of tap water as they are about showing everybody else how rich they are, that they can afford to buy expensive bottled water. It's also about the portability of bottled water vs tap water. I suspect those two factors have more to do with bottled water sales than real safety concerns.

    Over the last two decades, advertising has convinced far too many people that the only way to be worthy is to show off to others how well off they are, so they think they "need" huge megamansions, humungous gas guzzling SUVs or Trucks, and alot of other worthless crap they really don't need to survive.

    Everytime they see Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears on TV they're carrying a water bottle, so all the wantabes think they have to as well.

  3. David, rather than each of us testing our own water, it would seem more efficient for a market for testing/consumer information to develop. Are there no companies out there marketing doing testing and marketing reports?

  4. I think it may be a NYS law that local water agencies have to send out annual reports to customers.

    I get one every year which shows impurities below all the required limits, this hasn't stopped a huge rise in the sale of bottled water to my neighbors.

    In the last several years I've started to see Poland Spring water trucks delivering to nearby homes, something that never existed before. Even the need for portability to justify bottles fails in this case.

    Bottled water seems a case of mass hysteria.

  5. WaterTestingBlog.Com has detailed information on home drinking water test kits and other water testing information that may help to answer some of your questions and point you in the right direction with regard to testing the drinking water at your home, school, office, etc.

    Also, many people don't know this, but a lot of the bottled water people drink comes from. . . a tap in some other city, or perhaps a tap in their own city! Yes, sure, the water gets 'special filtering' usually, but in the end it is still tap water -- and most likely you could get the same quality by installing a filter in your own home.

    - Water Testing Blog


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