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Bottled Tap Water. Because Spring Water is so 2001.
July 29, 2009 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Bottled Tap Water From New York. Sold to New Yorkers. New York City's tap water has been called among the nation's freshest. It's so good that a young entrepreneur is bottling it and selling it for $1.50. To New Yorkers.
posted by Pragmatica (120 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I already had this idea. But I actually improved upon it. My plan was to open a water bar called Tap.
posted by snofoam at 11:24 AM on July 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah but this guy actually went through with his idea. So you lose.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 11:26 AM on July 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


"It doesn't require energy or pumping," Zucker said, "and it's so pure and clean."
Except for all those plastic bottles.
posted by sanko at 11:27 AM on July 29, 2009


"It's cheaper," Szeli said. "Water is all the same anyway. I just prefer to buy my own water in bottles."

Moron or idiot?

"It doesn't require energy or pumping," Zucker said, "and it's so pure and clean."

The water, maybe not. How about the bottle?
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite Dennis Miller joke from back when he was still funny:

"Do you read anything into the fact that Evian is 'naive' spelled backwards?"
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pepsi (Blue bottles) and Coke (also in Blue bottles) have been doing similar for decades. They may clean it up a bit more (mainly removing the chlorine or chloramine), but they both sell tap water in a bottle.
posted by bonehead at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bottled water is one of the more environmentally unfriendly things you can purchase. For example, from Harper's Index:
Ratio of the amount of water used to make the containers to the amount of bottled water consumed: 2:1.
So for every bottle of water you buy, you're essentially pouring two bottles of water on the ground.
posted by mullingitover at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


I guess people are paying for the convenience of the bottle that they can drink out of and then toss.

Especially to a man who discovered his entrepreneurial spirit at age 8, when he started a lemonade stand in Cleveland.

Really. Are we going to start talking about salesmen who got their first start in business with their own lemonade stand? Is that really relevant?
posted by scrutiny at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This guys got "20 business ideas in a drawer" and this is the best one he came up with?
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2009


So for every bottle of water you buy, you're essentially pouring two bottles of water on the ground.

/me pours out bottled water for these fallen water bottles
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2009 [26 favorites]


Sure! One for my dead homies!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2009


How about the bottle?

It takes about 2000 times more energy to make and fill the bottle than to deliver (to the bottling plant) and purify the water in it.
posted by bonehead at 11:33 AM on July 29, 2009


Are you sure about that? I get the impression that most water used in industrial processes is used as a heat sink - it gets turned into steam in the process but can still be re-used.
posted by doubleozaphod at 11:34 AM on July 29, 2009


In the five months since he started the company, he has proven his hunch: People are willing to pay for New York City tap water, and not just in monthly utility bills. anything, because they're cattle with purchasing power.
posted by Sova at 11:35 AM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I meant to ask that of mullingitover...
posted by doubleozaphod at 11:35 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why it would make sense to have more public drinking fountains.
posted by creasy boy at 11:36 AM on July 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


There is a very funny episode of a classic british comedy show 'Only Fools and Horses' where they bottled and sold tap water
posted by MontySwan at 11:36 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like how that article has an advertisement for permanent bottles on the side.
posted by scrutiny at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2009


Bottled Tap Water From New York. Sold to New Yorkers. Reported by someone in Los Angeles. Read online all over the world. We know, we know.

So for every bottle of water you buy, you're essentially pouring two bottles of water on the ground.

Except there's a good chance that two bottles poured on the ground might make it back into the groundwater basin, or possibly provide sustenance for plants. The water used in making bottles could end up being polluted or wasted along the way, taking longer to get back in circulation.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on July 29, 2009


doubleozaphod, it's not my research, but it was published earlier this year as P H Gleick et al , "Energy implications of bottled water" 2009 Environ. Res. Lett., 4, 014009 (6pp) doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014009:
As bottled water use continues to expand around the world, there is growing interest in the environmental, economical, and social implications of that use, including concerns about waste generation, proper use of groundwater, hydrologic effects on local surface and groundwater, economic costs, and more. A key concern is how much energy is required to produce and use bottled water. This paper estimates the energy footprint required for various phases of bottled water production, transportation, and use. We do not develop a single comprehensive life-cycle energy estimate because of differences among water sources, bottling processes, transportation costs, and other factors, but we quantify key energy inputs necessary for site-specific assessments. We also apply these inputs to three site-specific examples of the energy required from production to the point of use: local bottled water produced and used in Los Angeles, water bottled in the South Pacific and shipped by cargo ship to Los Angeles, and water bottled in France and shipped in various ways to Los Angeles. For water transported short distances, the energy requirements of bottled water are dominated by the energy used to produce the plastic bottles. Long-distance transport, however, can lead to energy costs comparable to, or even larger than, those of producing the bottle. All other energy costs—for processing, bottling, sealing, labeling, and refrigeration—are far smaller than those for the production of the bottle and transportation. These data can be used to generate specific estimates for different sources, treatments, and delivery options.
Link to full article here.
posted by bonehead at 11:43 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I bet I could buy those bottles for $1.50 each, replace the label with a $0.02 "Yankees SUCK" label and sell them for $3 each here in Boston.
posted by briank at 11:46 AM on July 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


The implication being, that it's while it's better to drink locally bottled water than water transported around the globe, it's still like comparing the fuel efficiencies of a cuise liner to that of a suptertanker, when a sailing boat will do.
posted by bonehead at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2009


You know what? Fuck this little prick. I'm really sick of celebrating all these "Donnie Douches" who capitalize on the fact that Americans are lazy and stupid to make fortunes contributing nothing but more plastic junk into our society in the process. STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER! If you need water so badly when you are out in the street fill up before you leave the house, it's not like you go a day without drinking water - you need it all the time so prepare for it! I know I'm preaching to the choir here but this really kills me. There's not even a bottle deposit on water bottles in NY because that prick of a corporation Pepsi keeps threatening cowardly NY lawmakers that it's going to move it's headquarters out of NY State if they do so. So many of these "pure and clean" bottles all end up in a landfill. That fact alone makes it immoral to drink bottled water when you have an alternative.
posted by any major dude at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2009 [17 favorites]


This is why it would make sense to have more public drinking fountains

Doubt it. Drug companies and cleaning product companies have people so scared of 'germs' that having public drinking fountains in NYC would probably make zero dent in bottled water consumption. I know people who refuse to touch anything in the subway....they ain't gonna be drinkin water out of a fountain.
posted by spicynuts at 11:53 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've sworn off bottled water (except when there's no other option) but I don't drink from public water fountains anymore either, after I saw a homeless guy washing his tighty-whities in the one outside my office...
posted by JoanArkham at 11:53 AM on July 29, 2009


I'm not particularly pissed at this guy. I think what he's doing is sort of clever. Granted, I also think his customers are total suckers, but so is anyone who buys bottled water. Don't get mad at this dude for capitalizing on people's ignorance. That's what America has been all about for years. Does it suck? Most certainly. Getting really pissed off at guys like this sure as hell isn't going to change anything though.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:53 AM on July 29, 2009


Coals from Newcastle.
posted by ardgedee at 11:53 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't get mad at this dude for capitalizing on people's ignorance.

People are mad because he's capitalizing on convenience/laziness, not ignorance. That and what a safe bet that is when balanced against environmental concerns of the average consumer.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2009


The idea of public water fountains makes me dry heave. It would be like drinking from the tap in a public toilet.
posted by MontySwan at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2009


Bottled Tap Water From New York. Sold to New Yorkers.

Um... So? It's not exactly a new concept. Both the Dasani and Aquafina at the convenience store down the street come straight from a faucet in Mississauga; I'd imagine the bottles in NYC are probably sourced from a similar tap in Newark or something.

*opens can of Perri-Air*
*inhales*
posted by Sys Rq at 11:58 AM on July 29, 2009


The honesty is... refreshing.

The more this guy gets his brand out there, the more people realize that the bottled water they're buying is tap water, and perhaps decide to save some money and just use their own taps.
posted by parudox at 12:06 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Penn & Teller: The Truth About Bottled Water [12:45] . Part of the segment focuses on "blind taste" tests of water in New York City (at 4:08). 75% preferred NYC tap water over bottled water.
posted by ericb at 12:08 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


any major dude - point taken, absolutely, but there are times when bottled water is the best of your bad options (I'm thinking music festivals or some bars/clubs where they make you pay for water). If I could buy local for those occasions, I'd be happier about my limited choices.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:10 PM on July 29, 2009


How is bottled water any worse than bottled soda? At least it won't rot your teeth and make you fat.

I understand it's more wasteful than drinking from the tap, but given the choice I'd rather people drank water than Pepsi any day. I don't really understand the hate.
posted by LordSludge at 12:18 PM on July 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


Penn & Teller: The Truth About Bottled Water [12:45]

Oh, crap. Awesome. Penn & Teller: The great purveyors of truth. I'm not slagging you ericb, but the day I start relying on them for facts, something is seriously wrong.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:20 PM on July 29, 2009


I'll copy interesting comments on Metafilter and send them to your email for $1.50 apiece. And by interesting, I mean the stuff I write.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:21 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


How is bottled water any worse than bottled soda?

I don't know about your house, but mine doesn't have free Dr. Pepper flowing through the pipes.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:22 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


I just walk to a lake and stick my face in the water and guzzle it down until my guts ache.
posted by I Foody at 12:25 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know about your house, but mine doesn't have free Dr. Pepper flowing through the pipes.

Wait. What? How the hell do you shower?
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:26 PM on July 29, 2009 [10 favorites]


As an added benefit, New York water is fluoridated, so people who are drinking "Tap'd" are statistically less likely to get dental caries.

I already drink NYC tap water, but do buy a single bottle of Evian or Poland Spring every couple of weeks. That bottle gets refilled over and over from the faucet, and frozen overnight on hot days.
posted by zarq at 12:27 PM on July 29, 2009


I already had this idea. But I actually improved upon it. My plan was to open a water bar called Tap.

Someone beat you to it:

'In late 2007, Claridge's (a luxury hotel in Mayfair, London) caused a minor stir by introducing a "Water Menu." The list features more than thirty mineral waters from around the world, described in terms of their origin and suggested flavor pairings.'
posted by jackflaps at 12:27 PM on July 29, 2009


"There aren't necessarily fountains or places to get clean water on every street in New York."

This is true. However, it's pretty easy to buy a refillable bottle and tote your own. It does get warm after a while and paying for the convenience of super cold water does have its appeal.

As for the public fountains, you people that avoid them do know there's no need to actually place your mouth on it, right? It would do really well for the city to have more public fountains. Alternatively, just use them to fill up a reusable bottle.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:28 PM on July 29, 2009


Giant supermarkets have been doing this in the DC metro area for years. Giant brand "Drinking Water" comes from DC metro tap water. So most folks in DC who try to avoid drinking the polluted, lead-laden tap water end up paying Giant for a bottle of polluted, lead-laden DC tap water. Hooray!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:30 PM on July 29, 2009


Count me with those who find the honesty refreshing. This guy isn't the problem. The lack of any fees on disposable containers is the problem.

We're hashing through some related issues in Seattle about now, trying to decide if we want to make it more expensive to use disposable bags. I really hope we get this one right, but well over $1 million in ad spending by the plastics industry isn't going to help.
posted by gurple at 12:32 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


As for the public fountains, you people that avoid them do know there's no need to actually place your mouth on it, right? It would do really well for the city to have more public fountains.

No, thanks. They're a haven for bacteria, which can wind up in the water stream whether you're putting your mouth on the spigot or not.
posted by zarq at 12:35 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since we're all coming up with new ideas, here's mine: New Jersey Spring - now with a double shot of Chlorine.
posted by digsrus at 12:42 PM on July 29, 2009


The other day I walked past some kids selling bottled water. they said "Buy water, Save the environment!"
I lol'd.
posted by water bear at 12:45 PM on July 29, 2009


As a thought, the water coming out of a fully functional drinking fountain doesn't actually touch anything on the outside of the fountain. It comes through a pipe and shoots into the air. The only disease you are likely to get from a drinking fountain is whatever someone got on the button. So, hit the button with your elbow or something.

zarq: the link you listed says on the spigot, not in the water, there is a big difference. You are making a faulty inference. They may well also mean on the ones where the spigot and button are the same fixture, so the germs could be on the button. Not enough information is given, and the piece is written as sensationalism. Additionally they list specifically school fountains, not ones elsewhere in the world.

Try putting a water fountain in a third world country with a water shortage, tell them not to drink it. Feel better?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:45 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tapit - so you know where to find it
posted by infini at 12:47 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like bottled water for the convenience of being able to bring water with me everywhere in a format that doesn't raise any eyebrows (my preferred water transportation device is a bota which people always seem to assume is full of booze.)

But as much as I like my bottled water, I can't taste a difference between any of the expensive to cheap ones that stores sell, so I just use the reverse-osmosis pump that my wife set up for her fishtanks to fill my empty bottles and save the money.

I'd probably take it right from the tap, but I'm on a well, and between the hardness and the iron it tastes pretty awful.
posted by quin at 12:47 PM on July 29, 2009


My tap water is so hard (lime) and over-chlorinated I refuse to drink it. It's like swimming pool water with the added benefit of causing kidney stones. My only option is store-bought water, which I buy in the 4L (gallon) bottles so as not to be knee-deep in plastic.
God, I can't wait to move to a place with decent tap water.
posted by rocket88 at 12:48 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


LordSludge: "How is bottled water any worse than bottled soda?"

Mostly because clean tap water is available almost everywhere and free or very nearly so, unlike soda. People don't understand why anyone would think they "need" to wrap it in a plastic bottle that five baby seals had to die to make. Which is a valid point, but the average consumer doesn't know about the environmental cost, or they do know but the problem is "out of sight, out of mind".

Meanwhile, bottled water has the following real and perceived advantages, all of which start with "C" for some reason:...and of course, a real but very stupid "advantage":Tap water needs to lay off some engineers and hire some eurotrash "branding specialists" if it wants to compete with that.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:50 PM on July 29, 2009 [10 favorites]


Zarq, you have an immune system.

It's this kind of severe paranoia that's leading to superbugs because everyone's using antibacterial products and avoiding this and that and not simply trying to keep one's immune system healthy and let it serve its purpose. Worse when it comes to overprotective parents.

Taking precaution and washing one's hands is one thing, but public drinking fountains and other facilities have been around for centuries and humanity is still around.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:52 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Try putting a water fountain in a third world country with a water shortage, tell them not to drink it. Feel better?

Don't need to go that far. Water fountains and public toilets -- while both may be beneath you, should be part of any humane municipal governance. Not everyone can afford bottled water, or to buy something from a café to use the facilities.

You can be a germophobe all you want in the privacy of your own home.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't blame me. MS Word added the accent.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:57 PM on July 29, 2009


Zarq, you have an immune system.

Yes, and I acquired mononucleosis at age 14 from a single public drinking fountain in a park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as did more than 30 of my high school classmates. (Interviews with all of us conducted by the school determined that the fountain was the most likely vector.) I'm not saying that bacteria one may potentially pick up at a drinking fountain are necessarily dangerous. I am, however, aware from personal experience that it is possible to be infected at one.

But hey, thanks for calling me paranoid. :P
posted by zarq at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


No, thanks. They're a haven for bacteria, which can wind up in the water stream whether you're putting your mouth on the spigot or not.

I have this rule, that I only base my health fears on firsthand anecdotal evidence.

Blood poisoning from shucking an oyster, causing your arme to swell to twice it's normal size? Happened to one of my friends. Now I won't even touch an oyster.

Lyme disease from a tick bite? At least 3 people I know. I so much as walk through uncut grassand my day is ruined.

Food poisoning from eating a half eaten sandwich your friends found on the bus and dared you to eat? Happened to my friend Earl in the 6th grade. Since that day, I avoid eating things I find on the street.

I have yet to hear one single anecdote, apocryphal tale, or urban legend concerning somone being struck down as a result of fountain-borne WMD. Thusly, I know firsthand that NYC has an abundance of well maintained, cool and convenient water fountains.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:01 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Central Florida has terrible tap water–it's like sulfur with a dash of swamp. When I go down there I have to buy the big chumpy with the tap on the side or else I'll die of thirst.
posted by Mister_A at 1:03 PM on July 29, 2009


There are people all over the world who would kill you for access to any American water source. Some day they might try it.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:25 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


delmoi: "This guys got "20 business ideas in a drawer" and this is the best one he came up with?"

Huh? It's a freaking brilliant idea. It's sad as hell that (1) people will pay for bottled water, and (2) that there's no tax or mandatory deposit on disposable bottles, but given those two things as premises, the whole scheme makes perfect sense.

He's undercutting all the other bottled-water makers by stripping the product down to nothing more than what people who buy bottled water actually want: water, in a bottle. Probably cold. For that, they're willing to pay $1.50. So he rents a tank truck and driver off of CraigsList, fills it up with dirt-cheap, high-quality NYC tap water, has it bottled, and sells the bottles to stores for less than the big distributors charge for their brands of water, who then sell it for less to consumers. What kind of fixed costs does he have; a delivery truck? Maybe not even that, if he's clever about it.

The overhead is minimal, the distribution chain is short, he probably doesn't have any debt, and the product apparently sells like crazy. A lot of entrepreneurs work their whole lives and never develop a business plan that's anything close to being that successful. At least while it lasts — until PepsiCo or another big bottler decides to emulate him or buy him out — it's one small step down from a Krugerrand-shitting unicorn.

It's easy to say that it's an obvious idea now that it's clear that it works, but I'm not sure that was clear beforehand: the big bottlers spend a lot of money trying to differentiate their bottled-water products from tap water (reverse-osmosis filtration! added minerals for taste!), so evidently they didn't think that people would buy "tap water in a bottle" if it was advertised as such. What the Tap'd guy has done is shown them that they're wrong — people will buy tap water in a bottle, sans window-dressing, if it's 35¢ cheaper than the next thing on the shelf. A company like PepsiCo would probably spend more than this guy's total investment in Tap'd just in market research to figure something like that out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:27 PM on July 29, 2009 [10 favorites]


I can't wait for the Instructable showing you how to "hack" your own certifiable bottled water from your tap and a used plastic bottle. DIY Bottled Designer Water.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:29 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Since we're all coming up with new ideas, here's mine: New Jersey Spring - now with a double shot of Chlorine."
Fresh from the grave of Jimmy Hoffa.

"The idea of public water fountains makes me dry heave. It would be like drinking from the tap in a public toilet."

But there's enormous variation. Well I remember the grimy, slightly oily taste of water from the school fountain - but on the other hand, some of the freshest water I ever had came from a drinking fountain in a hospital. They keep them pretty clean, for obvious reasons.

As for this Tap'd NY fellow, he may be the most honest con man in New York. And amazingly, the con still works even though he's up front about where the water comes from. Such is the power of social conformity.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:30 PM on July 29, 2009


Or, perhaps NYC will decide to jack up its water rates to match the rates for bottled water. Your future shower may very well cost you $30; after all, demand for the product seems to support it.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:31 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone beat you to it:

'In late 2007, Claridge's (a luxury hotel in Mayfair, London) caused a minor stir by introducing a "Water Menu." The list features more than thirty mineral waters from around the world, described in terms of their origin and suggested flavor pairings.'


I should have been more specific. My plan was to open a water bar in NYC that only served NYC tap water.
posted by snofoam at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2009


Try putting a water fountain in a third world country with a water shortage, tell them not to drink it. Feel better?

You seem to be conflating something I said with your own personal issue, here.

As a thought, the water coming out of a fully functional drinking fountain doesn't actually touch anything on the outside of the fountain.

So therefore any bacteria potentially on the spigot from someone covering it with their mouth is absolutely incapable of contaminating the water stream? This seems highly unlikely to me. The water stream on most fountains seems to flow through the spigot, touching its surface along the way.

The only disease you are likely to get from a drinking fountain is whatever someone got on the button. So, hit the button with your elbow or something. ... They may well also mean on the ones where the spigot and button are the same fixture, so the germs could be on the button.

Yes, but the button on a fountain is not the only place where bacterial growth may occur. Bacterial contamination in fountains can come from many sources, not just places where prior users have placed their hands or mouths. "Bubble" fountains are currently used in many public spaces to ensure a constant flow of water through the pipes and fountain head, in order to prevent stagnation and bacterial growth.

Dismissing the article as sensationalism doesn't refute it's assertions.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2009


Metafilter: Buy the big chumpy
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:34 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know about your house, but mine doesn't have free Dr. Pepper flowing through the pipes.

And yet, when you're deciding between a bottle of water and a bottle of Dr. Pepper, the bottle of water is still a better choice. The fact that tap water is a better choice than either doesn't change this.

What if you pretend the bottled water is uncarbonated, unflavored, super-healthy Diet Dr. Pepper. Okay now?

Huge fan of tap water, myself -- I refill water bottles with tap for the road -- just annoyed at the HURFDURF LOOKIT EM PAYIN FER WATER when fizzy sugar water is A-okay.
posted by LordSludge at 1:36 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've hashed through the bottled water debate before on the Blue. Phoenix tap water has a distinct chlorine taste that makes it thoroughly unpalatable (for me, anyway), so the calculus isn't as simple as just going with tap water.

I buy purified water in the large, 3-gallon refillable containers. You can refill them at the supermarkets for about 20 cents per gallon. I have a couple of ceramic water crocks (with spigot) which makes a nice tabletop dispensing arrangement. One of these is at home and the other is in my work office. Then I went out and bought a couple of really nice reuseable glass bottles, one for each location.

After the initial expense of about $50 for crocks, jugs and glass bottles, the whole arrangement paid for itself in about three months. Now, my purified water - "crisp and clean, no chlorine" - costs me 5 CENTS per quart bottle. I'm saving a ton on purified water, not to mention that I have emergency water supply if I need it.
posted by darkstar at 1:36 PM on July 29, 2009


Americans are lazy and stupid

If only there was someone punishing this wasteful sloth, perhaps with a $1.50-per-incident fine...
posted by roystgnr at 1:36 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm in Cary, NC and the tap water here tastes fine to me. My wife can really taste the difference if I forget to use the Brita filter, but I don't have such a refined water palate. I've been drinking out of water fountains and taps for almost 40 years and I'm not dead yet. And I almost never get sick.

Having said that, if people want to drink bottled water, it's a free country, but I think if I preferred the bottled stuff I would at least use a cooler with those big 5 gallon bottles and bring my own cup or reusable container. At work I use a glass and the tap while everyone else drinks the free plastic 10 oz. bottles from the drink fridge. I feel like some kind of weirdo.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:44 PM on July 29, 2009


Wow, after reading this thread I feel like some kind of savage for filling up my bike bottle from NYC water fountains whenever I bike through the city.

(Not that I'm gonna stop, you naysayers are idiots - I've never gotten sick from drinking from NYC water fountains.)
posted by exhilaration at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2009


Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, with awards for municipal water.

An American powerhouse at the contest - Mission Springs Water District of Desert Hot Springs, CA - shows how they prepare the contest water.
posted by milkrate at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2009


Darkstar: You can refill them at the supermarkets for about 20 cents per gallon.

Really? How does this work? I've never any supermarkets in NY/NJ/MD dispense water.
posted by exhilaration at 1:52 PM on July 29, 2009


what jabberjaw said. This seemingly industrious idea is the devil in disguise. You see, the more people willing to pay for water, the more it becomes a commodity, the more it adds to the bottom line of powerful corporations, the more corporations will overreach trying to expand that bottom line, the more people will die fighting for affordable drinking water. Resist the commoditization of water. Water is not a commodity, it is a human right.
posted by any major dude at 1:56 PM on July 29, 2009


Really? How does this work? I've never any supermarkets in NY/NJ/MD dispense water.

When I lived in the Texas panhandle, the supermarkets did so. Albertsons, specifically. I've also seen similar services at supermarkets in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. None of the markets here in NY or CT do, though.

Perhaps it's a midwest/southwest thing?
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on July 29, 2009


(Not that I'm gonna stop, you naysayers are idiots - I've never gotten sick from drinking from NYC water fountains.)

Good for you. Glad to hear it. But, I did. For the record, that doesn't make me an idiot. It makes me a wary, experienced consumer.
posted by zarq at 1:59 PM on July 29, 2009


But it really does depend upon the individual fountain. Imo, the fountains in heavily trafficked public spaces (particularly those used by kids) are less clean than water fountains in somewhat secluded areas like the side corridors or upper floors of an office building. And I don't know if it makes a difference, but the water seems fresher when it comes from those fountains that shoot a stream an inch or two into the air, versus the low pressure ones that burble a little stream just above the spigot.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:06 PM on July 29, 2009


Really? How does this work? I've never any supermarkets in NY/NJ/MD dispense water.

What's your definition of a supermarket? I can't claim to have ever sought or bought water from an in-store distiller unit in the NY/NJ/MD tri-state area, I would just be really surprised to discover that none of them had installed technology that we'd managed to get installed in Montevideo, MN (pop. 6000ish) in the local Red Owl in like 1982.

Wait a minute (rereading).

I've never any supermarkets in NY/NJ/MD dispense water.

Are you doing a version of that that "I accidentally the whole thing" meme? Did I just get played?

But seriously? You are going to be walking down a water aisle in the very near future and be all like "oh that's what that thing is!"
posted by nanojath at 2:06 PM on July 29, 2009


One of my co-workers says she believes Hannaford stores may refill water jugs. They have locations in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. The closest location to NYC looks like Middletown, NY.
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on July 29, 2009


Like in the toilet?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't claim to have ever sought or bought water from an in-store distiller unit in the NY/NJ/MD tri-state area, I would just be really surprised to discover that none of them had installed technology that we'd managed to get installed in Montevideo, MN (pop. 6000ish) in the local Red Owl in like 1982.

Sorry to surprise you, but they don't. Local chains here (Waldbaums, Key Food, Stop and Shop, Fairway, Whole Foods, etc.,) don't offer that service to their customers. They'd prefer to see us spend anywhere from .60¢ to more than $1 on bottled gallons of distilled or filtered water.
posted by zarq at 2:12 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


At 16, Zucker started a business enticing people to pay $1 to take a swing at a golf ball. The prize for a hole in one from 150 yards: $1 million. He rented space from a driving range and persuaded an insurance company to allow him to pay a premium for a million-dollar policy.


From a bunch of sources online, it seems like an amateur's odds of making a hole-in-one range from around 1 in 12000 to 1 in 50000.

So you'd think a rational insurance company would want to be paid at least $20 per swing for a $1M hole-in-one insurance ($1M/50,000). Hard to make money selling that at $1 per swing.

I wonder if this story is true?
posted by ManInSuit at 2:13 PM on July 29, 2009


I find it slightly odd that people buy bottled water to drink instead of tap-water. Sure, if you're out and about, it's kind of convenient to get it in a bottle form, but on a permanent basis? No.

Where I live (Birmingham, UK), the tap water is great - I'd go so far as to say that if I had the choice in a local shop when I was out and about, I'd choose a bottle of local Severn-Trent tap water, rather than any fancy, imported water that's come thousands of miles (they don't sell it, and I don't really expect it).

Maybe that's the rationale of the guy selling the water - convenience. Sure, you can drink Evian, but if you actually like the taste of local tap-water, aren't near home and as previously mentioned, don't like the idea of water-fountains, it's a great choice.
posted by BigCalm at 2:39 PM on July 29, 2009


How people can be so worried about bacteria on water fountains but just assume that the bottled water is "clean" when they know absolutely nothing about the conditions under which it is bottled. For all we know, they are bottling the water directly out of the toilet. OK, that's hyperbolic, but the point I'm trying to make is that regulation of bottled water is pretty lax in comparison to that of tap water.
posted by Hutch at 2:44 PM on July 29, 2009


How=How can
posted by Hutch at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2009


people will buy bottled water then turn around and bitch about the cost of gas. We're talking about $15 a Gallon here
posted by edgeways at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


exhilaration, most grocery stores/supermarkets out here have a small vending machine either just outside or just inside the store. You put your 3 or 5 gallon reusable container into it (the smaller ones are much easier to handle), insert 20 cents and it will dispense a gallon of purified water. Before I moved out to AZ from GA, I'd never seen these vending machines and thought them a bit odd. Then I tasted the tap water and understood.

There are small storefronts out here, too, that focus on water supplies. These little shops sell all manner of things related to water: filters of all sorts, refillable jugs, ice, etc. Most have their own reverse osmosis and UV purifying setup, too, and sell water by the gallon, sometimes even a bit cheaper than what you can find at the vending machines.

When I'm back in GA, I drink tap water all the time. Dad has a well and the water's fine. Out here in the Phoenix area, it's quite a different taste, though. I've found that my hydration level suffers significantly if I rely on tap water in AZ, simply because it's less palatable. But if I have the purified water without the chlorine flavor, I'm much more likely to drink more. With the asthma and the very dry climate, keeping hydrated is pretty important. So I go with the purified stuff.
posted by darkstar at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2009


Now, having said that. there are places in the US where I'll buy gallon sized jugs of drinking water rather than trust the tap water. S. MN or N. IA for example. Not that the water tastes particularly nasty, but all the run-off from crops and livestock.. shudder.
posted by edgeways at 2:56 PM on July 29, 2009


I think Jim Gaffigan put it best in his "bottled water" joke/s.
Excerpt:
I feel kind of silly buying the bottled water, maybe I’m just too Midwestern.

Every time I go into a store, I’m always like, “Hey, how you doin’? Yeah, I know you can get water free from any faucet, but uh, I want to pay for it. I’m just curious, do you have any air back there? Can I buy your garbage?”

How did we get to the point where we're paying for bottled water? That must have been some weird marketing meeting over in France. Some French guy's sitting there, like, "How dumb do I think the Americans are? I bet you we could sell those idiots water."

posted by carpyful at 3:00 PM on July 29, 2009


Oh, and periodically, I add about a small capful of hydrogen peroxide (3%) to the water crock just to kill any germs/mold that may be tempted to grow. It's completely tasteless in that dilution (one capful in 3 gallons).
posted by darkstar at 3:04 PM on July 29, 2009


Really? How does this work? I've never any supermarkets in NY/NJ/MD dispense water.

There used to be a dispenser at the Giant I shopped at in Takoma Park, MD.
posted by rtha at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2009


Dismissing the article as sensationalism doesn't refute it's assertions.

Zarq: the article said the outside parts of the fountain had bacteria on them. It most specifically did not assert that the water was contaminated. That is your inference, and it remains faulty. Just because you don't understand why the water is clean and the fountain isn't doesn't make the water unclean. It would take way too long to explain, but the water picks up no appreciable contamination from the outside of the fountain, only what is in the pipes. Usually the pipes are clean.

You claim that you maybe got Mono from a drinking fountain. It almost certainly wasn't the water itself. Guess what, I got mono too, kids give each other mono. Sure it could have been a fountain button, a doorknob, a desk, a chair, a bombardment game, anything, everything or any combination in between. Just because everyone decided to blame the water fountain as a possible vector, doesn't make it the vector.

As for my comment about third world countries, you have some of the cleanest water in the world piped in for you to drink, and you say it is unsafe. That is patently untrue and saying so is an insult to people that truly do have unsafe water.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 3:29 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Now with extra copepods.
posted by gimonca at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2009


Tip for people disgusted by chlorine-tasting water (like me): chlorine is actually quite volatile, so you can remove it easily from a container of water just by letting the water sit without a tight-fitting lid on it. Exactly how long it will take to dechlorinate depends on the surface area / volume ratio of the container, but overnight typically works even for a large pitcher. A narrow-mouth bottle (like a wine bottle) will take somewhat longer, but it will still work. Even the most disgusting hotel water I've had the displeasure of trying has been rendered palatable after about a day or so in a wide-mouth Nalgene with the lid off in the fridge.

I recommend trying this out, and seeing what your water tastes like once it's been dechlorinated. In some places the chlorine is really the only thing wrong with the water, meaning that there's no reason to pay for expensive Brita/Pur filters, and certainly not for bottled: a simple pitcher will work just as well provided you give the water time to dechlorinate. (This is why, I suspect, many people don't notice any difference as the filters in their Brita/Pur pitchers get old — all they're noticing is the lack of chlorine, and that happens without the filter anyway.)

Some water utilities are moving to newer sanitation systems that don't require as much chlorine (our utility is apparently quite proud of their new UV+Ozone system), which are both cheaper to operate and taste less like the shallow end of the YMCA pool. But they still toss in some chlorine, apparently to protect from contamination leaching into the distribution pipes, so I'll continue keeping a pitcher in the fridge just the same.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:47 PM on July 29, 2009


This is why it would make sense to have more public drinking fountains

Especially when there is gum in the spigot and a loogie in the drain.


My new band: Gum in the spigot and a loogie in the drain.
posted by pianomover at 4:03 PM on July 29, 2009


people who think NYC has great tap water have never had good tap water
posted by mr.marx at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2009


"Phoenix tap water has a distinct chlorine taste that makes it thoroughly unpalatable (for me, anyway), so the calculus isn't as simple as just going with tap water."

Like Kadin2048 said if the only objectionable taste in your water is the chlorine, and considering you've already got your crock and other equipment, the purchase of a couple more jugs would save you hauling the water from the supermarket. Just fill your jugs to just under where the jug starts to taper. Then leave it out over night with the lid off. No more chlorine taste.
posted by Mitheral at 5:36 PM on July 29, 2009


As for the bacteria contamination, there's so much bacteria on your hands you don't even begin to realize. Yet getting rid of it is fairly easy. It's also worth remembering that not all bacteria are bad for humans, while becoming obsessive-compulsive about cleaning is bad for you and improper use of antibiotis is helping some bug become antibiotic resistant .

In some context, NOT washing hands may prove to be lethal:
Johanna Sullivan Daly, a 63-year-old Brooklyn woman, developed MRSA and other infections after surgery to repair a broken shoulder in 2004, said one of her daughters, Maureen J. Daly. Ms. Daly said that just before her mother’s discharge from a Manhattan hospital, she watched a doctor remove her dressings with bare, unwashed hands.
(link)


What about water? Chlorinated tap water is excellent and getting rid of most dangerous bacteria. Unfortunately, when people take one scientific study and go crazy about it, without putting it in context, the worst can happen as peruvian people discovered in 1991 when a cholera outbreak hit the population. Why ?
cities in Peru discontinued chlorination of water supplies after the US Environment Protection agency published studies to show chlorine enhances cancer risk and is responsible for around 700 cases of cancer each year in USA.

The Lancet condemned this decision in an editorial, saying the cancer risk figures could be put "in perspective" by the 4,000 deaths in one year in Latin America. The threat of cholera is obviously more dangerous than the threat of cancer.
(link)

So what about bottled tap water sold for an overpriced $1.50 ? Nothing wrong with overpaying convenience, but when we are talking something essential to life, I prefer having a state run, scientist infested, administratively transparent municipal water system (that is not runned for profit) to a privately owned, lobbyst infested, limited liability company. Over there we already had our scandal, with water bills skyrocketing and incompetent or corrupt public administrators doing exactly nothing to stop the madness as the private company was nearing bankruptcy, starting a legal mess that isn't likely to be untangled but in years.
posted by elpapacito at 5:38 PM on July 29, 2009


Fuck, people are stupid.

Too stupid to live on this planet, I'm thinking.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on July 29, 2009


True, dissolved chlorine gas will eventually dissipate. Sadly, the chlorine (or, perhaps more accurately, the chlorine and hydrolysis products of hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion) isn't the only thing wrong with our water. It's pretty hard, too, which gives it an underlying mineral taste that isn't very pleasant to me.

They tell us that the tap water meets health standards, etc., but there's no getting around the fact that it just doesn't taste good (imho). Also, although it is "safe", Phoenix's water ranked dead last in a rating of 100 top cities in the US.
posted by darkstar at 6:48 PM on July 29, 2009


I paid €1,50 for convenience a year ago and I'm still using the same water bottle.

Only thing is that the water fountains in america don't have that nifty little side spigot, so I can't get this thing all the way full.

*water bill subsidized by the mechanical engineering department*
posted by rubah at 7:20 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I rely on bottled water, if I couldn't buy it, i would have to go out, buy a bottle and then fill it with water anyway. The bottle would be more expensive and I would lose it somewhere soon after and have to buy another one. The one liter bottles also fit perfectly into the bottle rack on my bike.

Instead of whining about bottled water, why don't we put a deposit on them, like soda bottles in many states. Keeps most of them out of the waste stream and gives certain people a way to make a buck. In my ideal world all products would be have the cost of recovering the packaging built into the price. If you make it, then you have to be able to dispose of it as well.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:21 PM on July 29, 2009


Instead of whining about bottled water, why don't we put a deposit on them, like soda bottles in many states.

The soda companies and their lobbyists are fighting that the same way they fought other bottle deposits, because they own a big portion of the bottled water market. I think someone linked to it upthread.

It helps to have a deposit, but the packaging of this kind of thing is still a huge waste.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:30 PM on July 29, 2009


I'm pretty sure I heard the same thing some 25 years ago, long before bottled water was ubiquitous, but the only mention online I can find is a comment here:
Bloomingdales on 59th & Lex used to sell a brand of bottled water that was just NYC tap water. Its slogan was "The Drink of Millions."
posted by Zed at 10:03 PM on July 29, 2009


It's pretty hard, too, which gives it an underlying mineral taste that isn't very pleasant to me.

The water vending machines mentioned by darkstar simply house a reverse osmosis unit along with a few other filters, a municipal tap connection and a coin handler. Properly maintained R/O units are great for lowering the total dissolved solids count in tap water but not all of those vending machines have been adequately maintained.

I used to buy several gallons of water/week from Glacier vending machines for my carnivorous plants, which cannot tolerate anything beyond a slight trace of mineral content in their water. Water from my tap=350 ppm TDS. Water from the Glacier dispenser a block away= .3 ppm TDS. I never drank it, though, I prefer my drinking water to be chlorinated.
posted by jamaro at 10:04 PM on July 29, 2009


Mr Lewis Black everyone!!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:43 AM on July 30, 2009


To those wondering why municipalities cannot just slap a 5 cent deposit on water bottles see this article. This is the problem when extremely powerful corporations get into the business of water and this is just the start. Wait until they get involved in purchasing the municipal water supply, with so many state senators in their pockets there will be no stopping them doing the same thing to water that the speculators did to oil last year - only there will be no market forces to bring the prices back down to earth. People cannot cut back on water. Think about this the next time you walk out of the house without something to drink.
posted by any major dude at 6:26 AM on July 30, 2009


I rely on bottled water, if I couldn't buy it, i would have to go out, buy a bottle and then fill it with water anyway. The bottle would be more expensive and I would lose it somewhere soon after and have to buy another one. The one liter bottles also fit perfectly into the bottle rack on my bike.

It's annoying to lug around my travel coffee mug. And to clean my tupperware instead of using disposable. And the salads sold across the street are tasty (and healthy!) but packaged in a ton of plastic. You think you're the only one who finds it easier to use disposable stuff? It's all about "ease".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2009


Not to pick on you in particular, though after the above quoted paragraph, for you to characterize environmental concerns as "whining"... I read your paragraph as one long whine, myself.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:57 AM on July 30, 2009


I love Dasani water - all over the country. No idea what they do to it, but even in places, such as coastal Florida, where the tapwater is worse than blige water (or may very well be bilge water and full of snake eels and spiny naiad) the Dasani taste great even from a plastic bottle. Room temp Dasani is a real treat. This is, for me, life's greatest mystery.

No doubt the water from the reservoir in NYC is fine and dandy, but that city has some ancient pipes.

Of course, I say all this as someone who drinks from the hose at a horse barn almost daily.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:14 AM on July 30, 2009


Dasani contains salt. That's why it tastes good to you.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:40 AM on July 30, 2009


Dasani is tap water. Really. Maybe they run it through a Brita, and soften it with salts, but it's tap water.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:48 AM on July 30, 2009


Douches" who capitalize on the fact that Americans are lazy and stupid to make fortunes contributing nothing but more plastic junk into our society in the process. STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER!

I do buy it when I'm out if I forget my bottle - unless I want to pony up £3 for a smoothie, it's the only thing I'm going to drink. We don't have public fountains.

I used to live in SW London where the water was so filthy that a) it stained the carpet with peculiar colours when it spilt b) it gave me a serious stomach upset for the first two weeks I lived there. A lot of Londoners buy bottled water as it's packed with limescale - any tea without milk leaves a nasty film on the cup that I've never seen when living elsewhere.

Dasani failed over here.
posted by mippy at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2009


My iPod just shuffled randomly to Coldplay's "Glass of Water" O_o
posted by chalbe at 10:09 AM on July 30, 2009


I hate buying bottled water for home use, as a routine. I miss American gallon jugs (preferably Polan Spring, thanks). Since the 70's, I've been inclined to buy gallons of spring water whenever I feel less than good. It's easier to drink a lot of water, when the water tastes good! I look back now, and realize, the water wasn't really very bad.

In LA, tap water simply wasn't drinkable, for my taste. There, I had Arrowhead delivered. Good tasting water. When I lived in northern Wisconsin, I took containers and got my own spring water, from the source...until the best-tasting one got closed down when some contamination was found (probably from something dead being near the cistern). Tap water there was okay, but I liked the spring water better.

In Europe, I use a filter I bought in South Africa (made in USA, actually), that goes on the tap. I'm looking to replace it, as the filters aren't readily available here. Can't find big Brita tanks here, and those pitchers are ridiculous for the way we go through drinking water (don't fit the fridge nice, either). Here in Switzerland, I'd vastly prefer the whole house be softened or something! I now understand why Swiss are so big on proper cleaning! Water is, by definition, not clean, in so much as it leaves so much behind. You'd be insane to run your washer without a Calgonite tablet. One time when we first got here, before our filter was installed, I bought some Swiss bottled spring water (cheap from the supermarket). OMG, it was not drinkable!

When we're traveling, we do by bottles, for the sake of the cold, and to avoid hotel tap water (which usually manages to taste bad). I'm happiest with Spa, from Belgium (Spa Blau, or blue, is without gas. Whether Spa water or not, the term will get you flat water most anywhere in Belgium or the Netherlands). Since my experience with Swiss water, I'm hesitant to buy strange brands.

The thing about "fine bottled water" has its roots in the European thing with drinking carbonated water. When I lived in Duesseldorf, Germany, many restaurants didn't even have water without gas, nor would they offer tap water. My Belgian inlaws prefer sparkling water themselves. I've only recently been able to enjoy it, but prefer plain. (I ask you, English speakers: Who wants to drink water containing something with the disgusting name "colon sour"?! LOL!)

Somehow, water snobbery caught on in the States. I never could figure out why people were buying French water, when they could enjoy Poland Spring at a fraction of the cost! (At least, it was vastly cheaper back in the 80's. Has that changed?)
posted by Goofyy at 10:29 AM on July 30, 2009


I refuse to drink bottled water unless I have to. I have a Brita at work and two filters on my home tap water (not the best quality and probably killing me slowly, but noone is going to make me pay extra for water, dammit.) I refuse to drink Dasani unless I am about to overheat and there are no other options. Dasani makes me more thirsty. Probably the salt.

I was at an outdoor mall last weekend and it was about 98 degrees and I drank from a public fountain. People glared at me like I was molesting their children.

Plus, bringing refillable, insulated bottles to DisneyWorld during August probably saved me a few hundred dollars. Disney drinking fountains are the freshest, coldest I've ever tasted.
posted by threeturtles at 2:12 PM on July 30, 2009


Oh, crap, I forgot what I meant to post. When I lived in NY I once visited a restaurant somewhere in the East Village that offered "Tap Water from above 16th street" on the menu for $0.50.
posted by threeturtles at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2009


Isn't this like the eighty billionths time that somebody has pulled a stunt like this?
posted by borges at 2:18 PM on July 30, 2009


Sysreq, I know it's tap water - that's why I mentioned that it taste the same even if the local water supple tastes like bilge water. I would guess they use the same process most other bottled water companies use (the advertised process is identical to many others - but I doubt they're required to discolose all the details), and yet somehow they get better results. And they're Coke.

five fresh fish and threeturtles - most bottled waters that are purified tap water have salt and other minerals added - but none of them add enough salt to requre a sodium conent on the label. They do this to mimic the mineral content of spring waters, which have sodium. Some American spring waters bottlers add salt and minerals for a consistent taste.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:20 PM on July 30, 2009




It's annoying to lug around my travel coffee mug. And to clean my tupperware instead of using disposable. And the salads sold across the street are tasty (and healthy!) but packaged in a ton of plastic. You think you're the only one who finds it easier to use disposable stuff? It's all about "ease".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:56 AM on July 30 [+] [!]


I don't throw them away until they die, although I do lose them. I also sometimes take those left behind and clean them, if they are the right brand. (Earth20 has a really good spout that lasts a long time and closes well) As for tupperware, I use yogurt quarts and plastic salsa dishes...

Not to pick on you in particular, though after the above quoted paragraph, for you to characterize environmental concerns as "whining"... I read your paragraph as one long whine, myself.

Touche!

Also while in Africa they wanted to get the parents of children in a school to come to a meeting. To get them to show up, they offered to give them...disposable water bottles, of course they were the 2 gallon ones and they were empty.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:21 AM on July 31, 2009


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