MWRA 2012-2013 Writing Contest Winners

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Michaela Markwart
Grade 7, Derby Academy, Hingham
Mrs. Winslow, Teacher


Tap vs. Bottled

Water. We can't live without it! Our brain is 95% water, our blood is 82% water and our lungs are 90% water. Without water we will become dehydrated in a matter of days and die. We need to take the amount of water, as well as the type of water we drink seriously.

Water is everywhere, but most of it we cannot drink before processing it in some way. We need to remove some things and add in others and then check to see that what should be there is, and what shouldn't be there isn't. We need systems to verify that the water we drink is safe and there are two very different approaches. Tap water and bottled water. I will argue that tap water is the best option.

Let's look at some names of bottled water ... Poland Spring, Perrier, Aquafina, Sierra Springs, Fiji Water. Crystal Clear. What do these names make you think of? I see cascading waterfalls with woodland creatures all about, sipping water from the springs! This vision is not an accurate one. The water bottle companies are trying to give you a fantastical idea of where the water you drink from bottles is coming from. The reality is that 25 % of bottled water is just water from a tap.

People love the convenience of water bottles. We live in a go, go, go society and we love to stay hydrated on our errands and while doing our after school activities. People find it easier to grab a bottle from the fridge than to fill a container with tap water. So what about all the plastic that is wasted when those bottles of water are consumed? For this reason alone, drinking water from the tap is the best option when considering the damage to mother earth through plastic production and plastic waste.

Plastic bottles are not only cluttering our landfills (as not enough people are recycling), but studies have also shown that chemicals in the plastic may be leaching into the water. The long-term effects of this are uncertain, but eliminating additional chemicals from our bodies is clearly the best option.

Let's consider costs ... Drinking from your tap costs pennies a day, while drinking water from bottles ranges from $.80 to $4.00 per gallon. Why would anyone pay fifty times more for water that is less regulated than the stuff pouring out of our taps?

So what are the rules for bottled water and for tap water? Are they the same? In fact they are not... Tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and bottled water is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Tap water is actually better regulated when it comes to bacteria, filtration, disinfection, and essential nutrients. E.coli or Coliform cannot exist in tap water, but bottled water allows some bacteria. Tap water is filtered and/or regulated, but bottled water does not go through these processes. Tap water has calcium and iron in it, while bottled water has the natural minerals removed. Tap water has a tiny amount of chlorine to help prevent bacteria, but bottled water has no disinfectants. If I know that water is such an important part of my daily life, should not I be more focused on what might be in that water?

And what happens if something bad is found in our tap drinking water? Well, there are checks in place to help insure that our drinking water is safe. The same checks do not apply to bottled water. There are standards that must be followed with tap water and when those standards are not met, there are ways to enforce that they are. If bottled water violates a standard, those bottles can still be sold. Tap water is tested in certified labs. This is not required of companies who bottle water. The tap water results are reported to the state or to a federal agency, while bottled water reports to no one. Tap water systems require certification, but bottling plants do not. In fact, the water coming out of your tap demands that you have access to reports that tell you it is OK to drink, when at the same time, water in bottles is not required to give you the same peace of mind.

We all need to drink water and the bottling companies have given us a false sense of the quality of water contained in their bottles. I believe tap water is better than bottled water and I have given you some facts to think about. Consider each one carefully and then tell me, which do you feel better about drinking now?

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