It is very common for research groups to set up a "bottled water taste test". The results are always the same: without a label, there is no obvious difference among any kind of bottled water or even tap water. Yet millions of Americans routinely buy bottled water and re-filter their tap water. The Clean Water Act of 1972 was supposed to ensure all water sources were pure and safe for drinking or swimming. Enforcement simply did not go far enough, and public information on contaminants grew much faster than purification programs did. A series of laws followed the 1972 Act in an attempt to stem the general aversion to tap water, including the 1974 and 1996 Safe Drinking Water Acts (SDWA). These laws are a step in the right direction, but bottled water still maintains an advantage founded not in superior quality but in more effective marketing.
Years ago, the concept of selling water was laughable. Why would anyone pay for something they can get for free almost anywhere? Plumbing and free drinking water fountains are as old as Western Civilization. Selling water to a man with a faucet, or even a well, resembles the cliché of selling ice to an Eskimo. Consumers were intelligent enough to recognze that "evian," the name of the pioneering French drinking water bottler, was simply "naïve" spelled backwards. Yet by 1988 evian sold over 1 billion liters of water, all still bottled at the source in Evian-les-Bains, France(1). Competitors and entrepreneurs sensed a change in consumer tastes. In 1987 Suntory Ltd of Japan established Suntory Water Group in the US. It quick...
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United States Code, Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter XII, Part B, Section 300g-3, a-1-B, as listed at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/
Great Waters of France, http://www.perrier.com/history.html
Great Waters of France, http://www.perrier.com
Suntory Water Group, http://www.water.com/polar/
Suntory Water Group, http://www.kidzwater.com/
"Bottled Water is Cause for Concern, Environmental Advocates Claim" by Penny Stern, MD, for Reuters, reprinted at http://www.gue.com/news/1999-04A.html
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