By Jazz Vakhshoorzadeh

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This is the third feature in our Water Wednesday blog series.  Check back every other Wednesday over the coming weeks to learn more about how Boston has some of the best tap water in the country. Want to talk water? Tweet us @HealthyBoston #LoveThatBostonWater.

Happy Water Wednesday, Boston! Today, we will be responding to some common misconceptions about the differences between bottled and tap water. We want to show you why you should pick tap water over bottled water.

Isn’t bottled water safer than tap water since it is sold in stores?

No, tap water has to meet more stringent state and federal regulations, meaning that it is held to a higher standard than bottled water. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) conducts hundreds of thousands of tests per year for over 120 chemicals to ensure that the tap water delivered to your home is clean, safe and high-quality.

Isn’t bottled water is more pure and natural than tap water?

Not necessarily. Some bottled water is actually tap water from a municipal source, so bottled water isn’t necessarily more pure than the tap water from your faucet. In Boston, we are fortunate enough to have the beautiful and pristine Quabbin Reservoir as our source of drinking water. It doesn’t get more natural than that!

Does Boston tap water have high levels of lead in it?

No, the MWRA continuously monitors the levels of lead in the tap water to ensure that it is below regulatory levels and safe for consumption. In 2012, 90% of the tap water samples were at least 51% below the regulatory levels. The MWRA also recommends running your tap water faucet for one minute every morning prior to use in order to flush out the system.

I’m trying to be environmentally-conscious. Is bottled or tap water more environmentally friendly?

Tap water. Only certain types of bottled water are recyclable, and non-recyclable bottles can take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. The process of bottling water also emits over 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that can contribute to climate change. Reusable water bottles are a great way to carry tap water, and can help to not only eliminate waste from plastic bottles but also to reduce our carbon footprint. If you are looking to keep your tap water cool for longer, try using a stainless steel reusable water bottle.

Isn’t it better to drink bottled water in order to save water?

Absolutely not. The production of bottled water takes approximately three liters of water to produce just one liter of bottled water! Generating tap water does not waste any of our precious supply of high-quality water!

But isn’t bottled water more convenient?

Actually, you can’t get more convenient than tap water. Tap water is delivered right to your faucet in your home, so you do not have to:

  1. Make that extra trip to the grocery store,
  2. Carry a heavy box of bottled water,
  3. Find a place to store them in your apartment or house.

And best of all, tap water costs significantly less than bottled water, so it can save you tons of money!

Jazz is an intern with the Public Health Commission. 

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