MWRA 2012-2013 Writing Contest Winners

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Annie Keyes,
Grade 12, Walpole High School, Walpole
Ms. Wick, Teacher


The Benefits of Tap Water

Water covers more than half of our Earth's surface, and is essential to all forms of life. With its unlimited benefits and uses, whether by using it to stay hydrated and refreshed or cooling off in a pool filled with it, it is easy to realize how essential water is for daily life. However, despite water's numerous positive qualities, people are actually using it to harm our environment. By drinking out of plastic bottles, people are filling up our limited landfills and burning many fossil fuels, and overall contributing to unnecessary pollution when instead they could be drinking tap water, with just as many benefits as bottled water, and for a fraction of the price! Many people cringe when they hear the words "tap water" instantly thinking of filthy, impure water while they clutch their precious bottles of water tighter in their hands; but what those people are unaware of is that tap water is completely safe, much more environmentally friendly, cheaper, and even sometimes healthier to drink than from plastic water bottles.

One of the main concerns about tap water is the cleanliness and safety of it. Many people scoff at it, thinking that it contains bacteria or other impurities, when actually tap water is very well treated and maintained. Tap water is heavily regulated by the EPA with many requirements and standards it must reach, while the FDA regulates bottled water and can often times sneak past crucial tests and prerequisites. Tap water undergoes scrutinizing tests to test for coliform bacteria presence by using a distribution system at a frequency proportional to the number of people served ( For example, a public water system with about I million customers must test their water at least 270 times per month; while according to FDA bottled water regulations, a company only has to test their source water at least weekly for total coliform content (, Furthermore, if a public water resource has detected bacteria in the supply, the public must be notified within 24 hours after the system learns of the violation, while the FDA does not have any rule that states the public must be alerted ( Overall, the EPA is much stricter with their guidelines to drinking water safety than the FDA. The result is that tap water is much more thoroughly tested therefore safer to drink with less of a chance of ingesting potentially dangerous bacteria that bottled water is more likely to contain.

The impact bottled water has on our environment is immense. Most people don't even realize the damage they're causing by buying cases of bottled water and then just disposing of them when finished. The average American drinks about 170 bottles of water a year ( and multiplying that by our population of about 300 million people equals a whopping 51,000,000,000 bottles a year (, US Census Bureau). Of those 51 billion bottles of water, about 90% of them are sent to a landfill, taking over 300 years to decompose ( Furthermore, the packaging and shipping required for bottled water bums off a great amount of fossil fuels and releases C02 into our atmosphere. On the other hand, tap water is much more eco-friendly. It can be enjoyed in a reusable water bottle that can be cleaned and used daily, therefore reducing the amount of plastic water bottles used by the average American to 1, instead of 170. If each person in America switched to reusable bottles, it would reduce the amount of bottles each year a great amount, freeing up a lot of space in landfills and conserving our precious fossil fuels. If you value the environment and the planet you inhabit, you would be doing it a tremendous favor by simply enjoying tap water every day as opposed to packaged and bottled water.

Tap water not only saves the environment, it also saves your wallet! On average, a bottle of water costs about $1.00 while one glass of tap water costs about $.00013 ( You are recommended to drink about 8 glasses of water a day, or about 3 water bottles, in order to remain healthy. Those 3 water bottles a day will equal about $1,000 a year, but the 8 glasses of tap water will add up to only a mere $0.48 a year. In short, the amount of money you spend on tap water in an entire year is half as much as you spend on one water bottle that will most likely be used once, and then end up in a landfill. I understand it is of personal preference, but I think you would have to be crazy to be able to accept those facts and continue to blow your money on bottles of water when tap water is so readily available and cheap.

Overall, the benefits of tap water far outweigh those of bottled water. Bottled water may be convenient, but tap water is eco-friendly and cheap. I know that often times it is much easier to just grab a plastic water bottle every morning than having to wash and fill up a reusable one, but in the long run it is very much worth it to take the extra time and effort-it can save the world and your budget! You need water to live every day, so why not make the most of it by being eco-friendly and cost conscious by enjoying tap water. I hope that more people will realize the benefits of tap water and begin using one of our most precious resources more wisely. However, it is definitely your choice to consume tap water or not; but technically, your life does depend on it-so be sure to choose wisely.

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