Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Driving Bottled Water Companies Out Of Business



If there's an industry that the federal government has somehow failed to regulate, sooner or later it will be targeted. The latest potential victim: bottle water companies.

It seems that water that comes out of the tap is regulated. Municipal water systems must report to the government just what's in the water that it feeds to our homes. Of course, we the consumers of that water don't get a notice about what we're filling our drinking glasses with. But they do have to report just the same.

Now the government wants to extend those regulations to the distributors of bottled water. Not only would they be required to analyze the content of their product. They would have to label each bottle of water with the results. Handing to them a greater burden of disclosure to the person swallowing the water than municipal water systems.

Now here's the interesting point. Where do the bottled water companies come up with the water that they sell? Do they collect them in their own reservoirs, run them through filtering plants and then fill the bottles? Or do they simply turn on the same taps as you and I do and fill the bottles with water that's already regulated?

Generally police departments want to show that crime is down in their cities to prove they are doing a good job. But I've actually known police chiefs who have leaked crime stories to me, especially when their city councils were figuring out budgets. There's job security for cops when there's crime. No crime, no need for a lot of police.

This seems, to me, to be a case of the latter. Government bureaucrats coming up with regulations to justify their positions.

Environmentalists have been waging an effective campaign against the bottled water industry - urging people to drink from the tap because it's less expensive and all those empty plastic bottles need to be disposed of. Not to mention the carbon footprint associated with delivering bottled water.

These are all good arguments that have drastically reduced the profitability of bottled water. If the government goes ahead with these new proposed regulations, it could just be enough to put some of the bottle water companies out of business altogether. One could argue that, with the economy such as it is, the last thing we need is the federal government, which is supposedly creating jobs with the various economic stimulus program, causing more people to head for the unemployment line.

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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uditk/1590855800/

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Of course, we the consumers of that water don't get a notice about what we're filling our drinking glasses with."
My wife and I own homes in two different areas of Southern California, and receive annual water quality reports from both water companies. I don't know whether this is mandatory, or just politeness on their part, but I just scanned both of them. No quality report has ever come to my house concerning bottled water.

Anonymous said...

So if I pee in a bottle and label it "spring fresh" you will gladly drink it? Good to know for future reference.

Anonymous said...

This is typical over regulation. Jut like those "This is not an Exit" signs that popped up around the country several years ago.

The nanny state continues.

Gary Baumgarten said...

Not that I would imbibe but urine is sterile http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2187.html

Anonymous said...

Urine is sterile if and only if the donor doesn't have a urinary tract infection, or an STD.

I do not think BTW that regulating bottled water is an example of "over-regulation". Actually I take that back, since "over-regulation" is a wingnut buzzword for "Dammit, things were going fine selling that crap to people, and now we've been found out", which is exactly the case here. I don't have a link to it, but a report I read five or so years ago said that your chances of imbibing dangerous levels of coliform bacteria in a bottle of water are THIRTY PERCENT. Imagine the outcry if that were the case in some municipality with the tap water!

Anonymous said...

We regulate things that could pose a harm to us. Tap water is tested because cleaned water from our sewage systems can carry diseases or running through various city pipes water can pick up lead and other toxins. Since we don't know where bottled water comes from, other than what their ad and PR agencies tell us, I don't see why some regulations shouldn't be in place. For the small fortune I pay for bottled water, I would like proof where it actually comes from and their filtration process to make a more informed purchase choice. In the meantime, bottled water could easily have certification standards similar to the ones used to certify organic foods.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read or hear anything about bottled water, I think of Lewis Black and smile.

"Our country had water coming to our homes and even if we were locked out we could still get it. Clean water and we said, 'No, fuck you! I don't want it to be that god damn convenient. I want drive and drive and drive and look for water like my ancestors did.'"

"So, we now buy water from Coke and Pepsi. Because when I think clean water, oh yeah, I fuckin' think Coke and Pepsi."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNGWn-aWn5g&feature=player_embedded

Kevin Gosztola

Anonymous said...

Latest news:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/5778162/Australian-town-bans-bottled-water.html

Anonymous said...

I agree, with the reason that bottled water regulation is already in existence and it is sufficient. Most bottled water comes from municipal water sources, which are already regulated by those municipalities. By law, the source has to be indicated on the bottle. And if the product claims to be "spring water," then it must come from an actual spring. In both instances, the water is always under the oversight of the FDA.

Mark Wilson

Anonymous said...

Not that I'm a fan, but Penn and Teller did a wonderful Bullshit bit on bottled water.

Underregulated? Understatement.

JLee Davis

Anonymous said...

Oh one more thing....

car manufacturers are being forced to use engines and systems that are environmentally sound.

These water bottles are filling land fills at a rate that even the experts didn't factor in.

JLee Davis

Anonymous said...

Coke and Pepsi sell bottled water under the Dasani and Aquafina brands. In those cases, they're taking the same water they make their soft drinks from, but don't add the sugar, or carbonate it. Yet, it costs the same or more than the equivalent soft drink (especially when purchased from a vending machine).

Therefore, bottled water is MORE profitable for them.

We have the expectation that soft drinks will not make us sick due to bacteria or other contaminants. Why should a bottle of unsweetened, uncarbonated liquid from the same plant be subject to any lesser OR greater regulation?

Anonymous said...

In the area of town we live in, our water is contaminated but drinkable.
I opt for Poland Springs.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I agree with the thought that there is over-regulation, but on the other hand, I have always thought bottled water should specify the exact source and type(s) of filtration and/or modification. Otherwise it should be called "bottled tap water" like some of it is.

That said, you folks who can drink your tap water better thank your lucky stars and your municipalities, because around here (Florida coast) I'd just as soon drink pee. The water around here, even if you are on city water, smells of sulfur and tastes nasty. Some cities do have good enough water that I'll drink it after it goes through a Brita, but not here in Venice.

And FYI--pee is only sterile if it's still in your bladder. The act of urination introduces bacteria and other contaminants.

Dayna Vance

Anonymous said...

One time, our tap water started pouring out brown. Like mud. From North Phoenix, AZ "purified" tap water.

We never got a notice from the city gov't, or anything. We called water services here, they came out and filled a bucket with water. It was muddy. Then it cleared up. Their answer?

"Maybe a mud clot got in your system. It's clear now. You're fine."

So sometimes the water comes out brown (in our new, half a million dollar home built 2 years ago) - sometimes clear, but the city government that assures me our water is so safe has no answer for why, except perhaps a "mud clot" - and then when it clears up, they say it's "all OK" - despite not doing any tests from MY tap, etc.

Yeah. I trust my gov't. They keep us safe.

I'll keep drinking bottled water, just the same. Have you ever tasted Phoenix tap water? You at least have to filter and/or boil the crap...

Anonymous said...

did you know that soft drinks are already regulated by the government? and that those regulations change frequently?

the question you should ask yourself, is why was water exempt for so long? that doesn't make any sense. federal standards have not crippled coke or pepsi in the 30 years we've had them. perhaps you liked their promotion a few years back:guess how much benzene you drink!

Gary Baumgarten said...

For those who are in Venice or north Phoenix I suggest you do what I do when I'm in Mexico.

Just say, "Una cerveza por favor."