St. Cajetan's Revenge

For some time, I’ve watched the War on Bottled Water with amusement. I don’t disagree with figuring out how to reduce waste, and so on and so forth, but the railing against bottled water per se struck me as not thought out very well.

The major reason for my thinking is that I never heard any of the venomous railing against water extending to any other drinks that come in bottles. To my mind, it seemed that a Coke, hey, that’s okay, but if you start with one and take out the sugar, the caffeine, the artificial flavors, and CO2 you end up with water. Coke okay, water evil.

Me, sometimes all I want is a cool drink of water. More often, I want something a little more. I’m very fond of those fizzy waters with a bit of essential oils in them, as well as iced tea. But I don’t want the sugar. I want an artificial sweetener even less, and often when faced with decisions, water is what’s available. When I’m traveling nearly anywhere, I think I’d rather have it in a bottle, thanks.

The prejudice against water comes from thinking that it’s just water. Rarely is there such a thing as just water. The only just water there is is distilled (or in a pinch deionized) water, and that is itself special because it is unusual for something to be just water.

And now, I can’t help but think, “Uh huh” as I read, “Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show.”

The summary is that more than 20% of US water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years. The violations include sewage bacteria, known poisons and carcinogens, parasites, and so on. Mid-level EPA investigators say that the government has been interested in other things and just not enforcing things, and they don’t think change will happen.

Security isn’t just going after terrorists, it’s basic thing. Like water.

6 Comments on "St. Cajetan's Revenge"

  1. Well, sure, but Coke isn’t freely available from taps and drinking fountains everywhere. If it were, and you could easily put it into reusable containers, I’m sure there’d be a war on Coke, too.
    There’s also no evidence that bottled water is safer than tap water. The testing standards for it are much less stringent. Much of it is filtered, repackaged tap water anyway.

  2. @orv: You have a point — I think that the war on water is the perception that water is (and should be) free, and so therefore someone who sells it adds no value. No one complains about fizzy water, which seems to cross the threshold from profane water into sacred soft drinks.
    But this article is *precisely* evidence that tap water is less safe than bottled water. Bottled water has to pass FDA requirements in addition to EPA ones off the source. Even bottled water coming from municipal sources is going through an additional FDA-approved process just at would if it became a soft drink.

  3. @mordaxus: You’re working on the assumption that the FDA is doing a better job of testing and regulating than the EPA. I’m not convinced that’s true. The FDA is badly underfunded and the laws lack teeth. Some of the chemicals that have been cited as violating standards for tap water are not even *regulated* in bottled water. The FDA also doesn’t regulate bottled water *at all* if it’s being sold in the same state where it’s bottled, which by some estimates exempts about 60% of the bottled water sold.

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