Americans spend $16 billion a year on bottled water

Do you know what you're paying for?

BALTIMORE, Md. - Bottled water is America’s favorite packaged beverage. We spend $16 billion a year on it, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, but do consumers know what they’re actually paying for?

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water. The agency breaks down bottled water into different categories: artesian, mineral, spring, and well water. They all must meet FDA water quality standards but they come from different sources.

Well water and artesian water come from underground sources while spring water comes from surface water. Mineral water must contain atleast 250 parts per million total dissolved solids.

If you want to know the source of your bottled water, you should check the labels.

While bottled water may be branded as “mountain” or “glacier” water, it sometimes doesn’t even come close to those landmarks and the description is strictly for marketing purposes.

Some bottled water may even come from tap water. The water is usually treated before it’s bottled, however, it comes from a municipal source.

For example, brands like Aquafina, Dasani, and Nestlé Pure Life get their water from the local water supply.

“My favorites, and my recommendations, are going to be the ones that are based on reverse osmosis. They're actually filtered water. That way I know it's safe. That way, I know, other than the plastic that it comes in, that the water's actually got some purity to it,” said Michael Devries, a water specialist with Tapp Water Systems

According to the International Bottled Water Association, the average cost of bottled water is $1.27 per gallon or $1.11 per gallon for domestic non-sparkling water. Baltimore City Department of Public Works sells their water for $2.50 per unit, which comes to about $0.003 per gallon, making bottled water around 400 times more costly than tap water.

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