13 Apr 2011

The right to water in a restaurant?

AT asked an interesting question:
I was under the impression that institutions that sell food and/or alcohol are required to provide free tap water. They can charge a fee for the cup or the ice, but not the water. However, I'm finding conflicting information about this online. Is there a US or CA law that requires the food industry to provide free tap water, to your knowledge?
I know that many restaurants in Europe will refuse to bring you a glass of tap water. They sometimes make excuses ("very bad water"), but usually they tell you you have to pay for bottled water.

I also recall a Continental (or was it US Airways?) flight where they would not bring me a glass of water. They wanted to sell me a bottle of water. I insisted on water, so they gave me a cup of HOT water. That wasn't working too well, but then I got a cup of ice... and "made" my own room-temperature water. I was pretty mad.

Does anyone have an idea of laws or regulations (or a better horror story)?