Your bottled water is sucked straight from California's drought

Why are companies selling bottled water from the driest part of California? Because we're still buying it.

Published August 11, 2014 7:40PM (EDT)

FILE - In this May 1, 2014 photo, irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, Calif.  (AP/Jae C. Hong)
FILE - In this May 1, 2014 photo, irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, Calif. (AP/Jae C. Hong)

We all know that bottled water isn't the most environmentally-friendly product -- millions of tons of plastic end up in landfills every year -- but now we have an even bigger reason to switch to a Nalgene. There is a very good chance that your bottled water comes from California, in the middle of an exceptional drought and its third-driest year ever recorded.

Mother Jones' Julia Lurie explains:

The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky, but generally speaking, bottled water falls into two categories. The first is "spring water," or groundwater that's collected, according to the EPA, "at the point where water flows naturally to the earth's surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source." About 55 percent of bottled water in the United States is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead.

The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water -- the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home -- and bottle it up.

All four of those brands (in addition to Nestlé) bottle a large percentage of their water in California. That means that when we drink water bottled from any of them, we are actually taking water from the most parched region in the country and expending energy by transporting it across the country (or wherever you may be), instead of drinking your own free tap water. Why would we ever choose to be complicit with such a harmful practice? And, equally as importantly, why would companies choose to set up shop in the state?

One reason is that California is the only state without groundwater regulation, meaning that water companies can bottle any water they can dig up. Another is that nobody really knows where bottled water comes from, largely because companies aren't required to disclose the exact locations of their sources.

The biggest reason? We're still buying it.

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bottled Water California Drought Water